Ahava’s last day of trading in London’s Covent Garden is tomorrow (Tuesday).
It has suffered two years of racist, abusive and, at times, violent protests while Camden Council and our politicians looked away.
Not once did a politician of any rank stand up for Ahava’s right to trade or come to join the pro-Ahava counter-protest.
It is shameful that a shop that was trading 100% lawfully was forced to shut like this. It’s a stain on Britain’s democratic credentials.
Ahava’s all female staff were repeatedly bullied, not knowing whether they would arrive at work to find the locks glued, the shop front daubed in red paint or whether anti-Israel activists would invade the shop with heavy concrete blocks to lock themselves onto so making their removal from the shop virtually impossible.
After each invasion Ahava was forced to close for up to three hours, harming business and the ability of the staff to earn commission.
Israel’s flag was continuously denigrated outside Ahava by the anti-Israel activists. The most popular ways were cutting out the Star of David or replacing it with the word “apartheid”.
Three trials in all took place involving eight defendants. The first trial involving four anti-Israel activists collapsed when Ahava failed to show up, which was a great shame especially in light of the second, combined trial, involving another four activists which led to four convictions for aggravated trespass.
The defendants received conditional discharges of 18 months which means that should Gwendolen Wilkinson, Matthew Richardson, Jessica Nero or Christopher Osmond transgress again within that time then they could well end up detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure.
Court costs of £250 were awarded against each defendant with one defendant pleading poverty to the extent that he claimed he had to wade through supermarket bins for food. The hard life of anti-Israel activists these days and I thought they were mainly well-soaked Champagne Socialists!
Incidentally, the Judge declared that Ahava was “trading lawfully”.
The good news is that Ahava will reopen somewhere else and along the way many good friends have been made and an unofficial group of intelligent, hardworking, passionate activists with a variety of skills has bonded which bodes well for the future in fighting the rising tide of Israel-hate/anti-Semitism in Britain.
So, here are Ahava’s best bits. Please vote for your favourite clip at the end.
Whichever clip wins it might be worth awarding a special gift to the pro or anti-Israel activists involved; maybe a spa day at the new Ahava shop when it opens.
(If you have problems viewing try to switch to another internet browser)
1. ARE YOU FROM MOSSAD?
Introducing Seymour Alexander, the chief photographer of the anti-Israel movement. He slinks around silently with his camera, but occasionally pops up to ask: “Are you from the Mossad?”
2. THE PRE-CHRISTMAS ARREST
This was hilarious. They were trying to harm Ahava’s pre-Christmas trade and this activist thought I was just taking photos, not filming. So when he threatened to knock my camera out of my hand the police arrested him on the basis of this footage and took him to the police station to interview him while I went off to see Oliver in the West End. I understand he was later released without charge, but still must have had a bit of a shock.
3. THE SINGING ISRAELI TOURISTS
This was brilliant. A group of Israeli tourists accidently stumbled upon the anti-Israel protest outside Ahava and for twenty minutes passionately belted out a medley of Israeli songs drowning out the chants of the stunned anti-Israel activists.
This guy is determined to be arrested for the cause and enjoys nothing more than being dramatically dragged away by the police. At a recent “Nakba Day” protest he was photographed being hauled away in a similar fashion (see photo).
The Respect Party’s Carol Swords enjoys nothing more than telling a Jew to go back to Russia (which she did outside Ahava recently) and she is currently awaiting trial for allegedly assaulting a pro-Israel activist. Read more about her here.
In this clip you will see her demanding that I don’t take her photo. It’s a bit surprising as she isn’t usually that camera-shy, especially when it comes to photos with the Jew-killers of Hamas (see photo).
Good luck at your trial, Carol!
Now vote for your favourite clip: