As many as eight anti-Israel activists were arrested yesterday outside Israeli-owned Ecostream in Brighton, on England’s south coast. Ecostream belongs to Sodastream, which has a factory on the West Bank. Although Sodastream employs many Palestinians the anti-Israel lobby prefers to see the factory destroyed along with the livelihoods of Sodastream’s Israeli and Palestinian workforce.
Every Saturday anti-Israel activists flock to Ecostream to call for its boycott. They are always met by the stoical counter-protesting of Sussex Friends of Israel. Yesterday, however, the anti-Israel activists were swelled by the presence of Palestine Solidarity Campaign affiliated trade unionists from the NHS, NUT, GMB, NUJ and the University of Brighton.
But tempers rose and not before long the number of anti-Israel activists was depleted as protester after protester was led away to the back of a police van. A heartbreaking sight, indeed.
Then the police issued a “section 14” meaning both sides were kept apart and liable to arrest should anyone step outside their own zone. The remaining anti-Israel activists were restricted to the other side of the busy road opposite Ecostream and could, therefore, hardly be heard or seen for the remainder of the protest. Ecostream’s supporters stayed close to the shop.
Ecostream itself is a magical store. You can buy products that allow you to make your own carbonated drinks and you can refill your own bottles there with anything from honey, to olive oil to washing up liquid. Basically, cut down on your use of bottles and help the environment. Refilling is also vastly cheaper when there is no bottle to pay for.
Those of us who journeyed from London and other parts of England were very warmly received by Sussex Friends of Israel. Thanks to Harvey for driving a car load of us from London. It was good to see friends and meet new people and I also bought some lovely Palestinian olive oil from Ecostream.
Meanwhile, here are photos and footage of the action and photos from inside the Ecostream shop itself.
The first clip shows two of the alleged arrests and the second shows two trade unionists explaining how the presence of so many different trade unions protesting against Israel should make those supporting Israel “question themselves”. Well, that’s certainly an unbeatable argument if ever there was one: