With the incessant physical attacks on the Ahava shop in London’s Covent Garden it is about time that legislation was enacted to deal with the continuous intimidation of staff and disruption to business.
Last saturday anti-Israel activists stormed the shop again. They wheeled in a concrete block and locked themselves on to it before throwing themselves to the floor making it impossible to remove them. The shop was closed for three hours and the police came. The activists were arrested for aggravated trespass.
In a recent court case anti-Israel activists were prosecuted for taking similar action towards the end of last year but were acquitted on all counts.
The case collapsed because Ahava failed to show up in court. Ahava claim they were given no notice of the case. Others say Ahava chose not to turn up and defend themselves for fear of heavy cross-examination over their product labeling.
Ahava labels its products “Made by Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd., Dead Sea, Israel.”
It seems to be uncontroversial but when you have an ideological hatred towards the Jewish state anything, and everything, will be picked up on.
The Ahava factory that makes the products is based on the Dead Sea kibbutz of Mitzpe Shalem. It provides jobs in engineering, chemistry, research, and marketing & sales. There are 120 employees.
The main gripe for these Israel-haters is that Ahava’s products “come from stolen Palestinian natural resources in the Occupied Territory of the Palestinian West Bank, and are produced in the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem. Don’t let the ‘Made in Israel’ sticker fool you—when you buy Ahava products you help finance the destruction of hope for a peaceful and just future for both Israelis and Palestinians”.
Well, we know that for them “peaceful and just” means the ending of the Jewish state.
But all this talk of illegality and mislabeling is a hoax. If you attend the Ahava protests you can view the many “Boycott Israel” signs and hear the constant calls for the destruction of the Jewish state. The protest is not about Ahava at all.
However, when the activists get to court they have very able solicitors who will expertly argue the law for ends to which Parliament did not intend.
They will argue that being on the West Bank Mitzpe Shalom is illegal and so as Ahava was not engaging in lawful activity when the activists invaded the shop the activists were not committing a trespass.
They are likely to be acquitted again and activists will continue to attack Ahava. Intimidated Ahava staff will continue to see their photos put up on extremist websites.
But both Mitzpe Shalom and the product labeling are legal. It is not the duty of a local magistrate to decide the legal status of Mizpe Shalom. And as Ahava is an Israeli company and the Dead Sea is also in Israel the product labels are not a misrepresentation.
These are simple arguments that Ahava can make with the help of able, albeit expensive, legal representation.
But Ahava should not even need to make this case as it is being targeted solely because it is Israeli.
Britain should follow the French line and introduce the offence of incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence against a group of people on account of their belonging to the Israeli nation.
A French anti-Israel activist was successfully prosecuted recently for damaging Israeli product packaging in a French supermarket. Other prosections are due to follow. This is being supported by Bureau National de Vigilance Contre l’Antisemitisme.
So come to the Ahava Buycott, arranged by the Zionist Federation on 20th and 21st November, where you will receive a 10% discount on all Ahava products and treatments and where you can stick two fingers up to the anti-Israel protesters. The address is Ahava, 39 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden (near Leicester Square tube).
More importantly start lobbying your MPs for new legislation to protect Israeli products and businesses from being targeted solely because they are Israeli.