Tag Archives: natural history museum

SOAS Update.

Thank you very much for all the support I received in light of last Monday’s Palestine Society event at SOAS when I was manhandled and told I was a “typical Israeli”, eventhough I am a proud Brit.

I received incredible emails from all over the world with people appreciating my attempts to cover anti-Israel meetings in London and appalled by my treatment.

I received emails from those who completely disagree with my views on Israel, but were still appalled by the way I was dealt with.

And thank you for the Arabic translations too.

I never got to the bottom of why I was called a “typical Israeli”. Only that student knows what was in his mind.

I had a very constructive chat with SOAS who said they had been inundated with emails from both sides but who wanted to continue to welcome me to SOAS and they said they will be reviewing their filming policy.

Much has been made of my not applying for consent to film, but when I was thudded in the shoulder from behind and shouted at to stop filming I wasn’t asked whether I had been granted such permission by SOAS. As it happens I didn’t know there was a filming policy as it has never been mentioned at any SOAS event I have attended (and I have attended a fair few).

There was also at least one other person filming who, it seems, didn’t have the required permission either. Meanwhile, I always see students filming on their IPhones.

And, unless I nodded off temporarily, none of the required announcements in accordance with the filming policy were made at the start of last Monday’s meeting by the organisers themselves!

I believe that in a public space such as a university freedom of speech is commensurate with a right to cover that freedom of speech without fear or hindrance. No one should be disallowed from filming solely because of their political views.

I was targeted last Monday night because of my political views. No one else filming would have been roughed up like that. And I have never disrupted an event, despite what is being put about by my detractors.

Sadly, SOAS students, it seems, have received a highly defamatory and incendiary statement from the SOAS Student Union on behalf of the Palestine Society, which has potential repercussions for my personal safety at SOAS and which was sent to me by a concerned SOAS student. One of the paragraphs states of me:

“By now, we are well aware of his intentions. He first provokes, intimidates and insults (including racially) speakers, organisers or members of the audience and violates generally accepted conventions of public meetings.”

This is reminiscent of another SOAS talk I attended on 16th April about Israel’s Arab minority where I wasn’t even filming. At the talk I was verbally insulted by Gilbert Achcar, a SOAS lecturer, who, after I had asked a perfectly reasonable question during the Q&A, told the room that I was a “professional disruptor”, that had he known I was coming he would have barred me from attending and that I had left insulting remarks on his answering machine. He then told me to get out.

Of course I didn’t leave messages on his machine. I wouldn’t even dream of it.

Aggressive targeting of those supportive of Israel is not confined to university campuses. At the beginning of the year I was put through a torrid few months when Peter Scott and Salim Alam of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign tried to have me prosecuted for harassment because of some videos and photos I posted of them demonstrating against Veolia outside the Natural History Museum in December.

I was at a reasonable distance while filming their political activism but I ended up being called into Notting Hill Police Station to be questioned about my filming and what I had written on my blog. Scott and Alam seemed to have failed to tell the police that I and others are constantly filmed and photographed for their anti-Israel blog.

To my relief the police eventually decided against any further action, but had it come to court the following footage might have made interesting viewing. It shows Salim Alam outside the now defunct Ahava shop in Covent Garden getting up close and personal to the camera of Roy from Campaign4Truth who was filming legally but still, as you can see, gets his camera whacked by one of Alam’s colleagues:

Final PSC protest against Veolia at Natural History Museum.

Face of hate against Israel's existence outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Face of hate against Israel's existence outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Yesterday saw the end of the Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition sponsored by Veolia at the Natural History Museum and so Saturday was the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s final protest against Veolia.

PSC activists have been protesting against Veolia’s ongoing projects in Israel eventhough Veolia is doing a great job improving transportation links there, including for the local Arab population.

The PSC is a slick, well-funded operation producing thousands of anti-Israel leaflets and signs. Its ultimate aim is the destruction of Israel. On Saturday there were about 15 anti-Israel activists.

The four pro-Israel counter-demonstrators came with a small bundle of leaflets, one sign and a couple of Israeli flags.

As people queued for the museum the PSC activists handed out their leaflets and it was sad seeing some listening with sympathy to what they were being told about both Israel and Veolia.

As an aside you sometimes overhear small snippets about the lives of these PSC activists. The woman pictured above said she’s an Arsenal season ticket holder, which explains her absence when Arsenal are at home. Another PSC activist is a Chelsea season ticket holder, which explained his absence on Saturday.

I suggested to the woman that instead of going to Arsenal she should be offering the proceeds of her highly expensive season ticket to the poor Palestinian people who she claims to care so much about, but she replied:

“Unlike you I’m a well-rounded individual.”

Without wishing to cast aspersions on Gooners the fact that when this woman is not at the Emirates Stadium she spends her time holding up horrendous placards in public with the ultimate intent of destroying the Jewish state is hardly evidence of well-roundedness.

But, as they say, each to their own.

Photos from Saturday:

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

A small pro-Israel presence outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

A small pro-Israel presence outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

A small pro-Israel presence outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

A small pro-Israel presence outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

A small pro-Israel presence outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

A small pro-Israel presence outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Outside Natural History Museum - 10 March

Anti-Israel activists in London: “Slaughter in Syria? What slaughter?”

Outside the Natural History Museum today.

Outside the Natural History Museum today.

Anti-Israel activists in London didn’t seem to have a care in the world today about Bashar Assad’s continued slaughter of his own people in the cities of Homs, Aleppo and Damascus.

Instead, they urged people queuing for the Natural History Museum to boycott an exhibition sponsored by Veolia because it does business with Israel.

They could have joined Syrian opposition activists outside the Syrian Embassy or Amnesty’s Mass Rally in Trafalgar Square for Syria, Egypt and the wider Middle East, but, instead, they handed out leaflets which falsely claimed that:

1. Veolia placed job adverts for the Jerusalem Light Railway which were racist being “deliberately designed to stop Palestinian citizens of Israel from applying”.
2. Veolia operates buses to “illegal” Israeli settlements on the West Bank and that “Palestinians are often stopped from using the buses that Veolia runs”.
3. “Veolia takes waste and rubbish from Israel and illegal Settlements and dumps this on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank.”

The leaflet concludes by asking you to tell the Natural History Museum that you disagree with Veolia being the sponsor of the Exhibition and to “ask the museum to drop Veolia”.

Well, luckily, the Natural History Museum hasn’t capitulated to the lies and the Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is set to run until 11th March 2012. Judging by the long queues it’s a must-see.

Although there were some 20 anti-Israel activists there were about 10 pro-Israel counter-demonstrators to give some balance to the proceedings, including Phillip who brilliantly drove down from Wales to add his support.

Things did almost kick-off as one anti-Israel activist spent the two hours intent on making his presence known, including this incident when he accosted Jonathan Hoffman until being ushered away by museum security:

The final counter-demos. against the Israel-haters outside the Natural History Museum are due to take place on Feb. 25th and March 10th, if you can make it. Until then please tweet your approval of the exhibition @NHM_London

In the meantime, if you are an anti-Israel activist this is for you. It’s a clip (thanks Daniel Marks) of one of Bashar Assad’s tanks looking for more innocent Syrian civilians to slaughter. Just in case you hadn’t heard:



And more photos from today outside the Natural History Museum:

Why so ashamed?

Why so ashamed?

Handing out lies to museum goers.

Handing out lies to museum goers.

Sadly, reading the lies.

Sadly, reading the lies.

Phillip from Wales, placard in hand, shows his support for Israel.

Phillip from Wales, placard in hand, shows his support for Israel.

Two Israel-haters show their love for each other.

Two Israel-haters show their love for each other.

Still ashamed.

Still ashamed.

Mulled wine and Israel-hate down at the Natural History Museum.

Yasser Arafat would have been proud.

Yasser Arafat would have been proud.

With Ahava having closed down those who devote their lives to Israel’s destruction needed somewhere else to vent their hate. Their slime led from Ahava to the Natural History Museum where Veolia is sponsoring an exhibition.

Veolia is helping to build a modern transport network in Jerusalem, which is helping both Israelis and Palestinians to move more easily around the city, but instead the anti-Israel activists fed the usual lies to museum-goers about Veolia being in breach of international law.

As ever they were led by Salim Alam, who is present at virtually every anti-Israel happening in London these days (in contrast to PSC chief Sarah Colborne who is rarely seen).

Here he is trying to force me to stop filming yesterday’s protest:

It was almost a replay of last Christmas when he threatened to knock the camera out of my hand and which earned him a trip to the nearby police station:

He doesn’t like being filmed, but is quick to film. And here’s someone else who doesn’t like being filmed for some reason:

Did I miss a change in the law to the effect that no one can film political protests now? Have the Taliban taken over?

The anti-Israel activists lined up outside the entrance to the museum to hand out anti-Israel leaflets before cracking open the mulled wine and singing defaced Christmas carols which accused Israel of, inter alia, apartheid, settler violence and stealing land and water:

This one is about Ahava:

More photos from yesterday:

Salim Alam displays anti-Veolia literature (pro-Israel leaflet in background).

Salim Alam displays anti-Veolia literature (pro-Israel leaflet in background).

Handing out anti-Israel leaflets at museum door.

Handing out anti-Israel leaflets at museum door.

Drinking mulled wine which they refused to share with us. "Bah, humbug!"

Drinking mulled wine which they refused to share with us. "Bah, humbug!"

The mulled wine begins to take its toll.

The mulled wine begins to take its toll.

Showing commitment to the cause: $55 in Vietnam.

Showing commitment to the cause: $55 in Vietnam.

Nice keffiyeh, shame about the hat.

Nice keffiyeh, shame about the hat.

Tuning up for the carols.

Tuning up for the carols.

The singing begins. Don't call us, we'll call you.

The singing begins. Don't call us, we'll call you.

Siege of Ahava continues

The objective of the bi-weekly Saturday anti-Israel protest outside Ahava in Covent Garden is to force the shop to lose trade and eventually close.

In addition to the protests, the activists are now resorting to litigation.

Ahava is an Israeli company that provides skin care products made from Dead Sea minerals. Its only UK shop is on Monmouth Street.

One activist told me at today’s protest that they are suing Ahava for mislabeling goods. “Ahava’s going down,” he claimed.

40 anti-Israel activists stood outside Ahava today waving Palestinian flags and handing out leaflets to passers-by (photos below).

Headlined “Boycott Ahava” the leaflets claim Ahava’s products are “Stolen Goods” as they are “produce of the West Bank”. There was a small counter-demonstration of pro-Israel supporters.

After two hours the demonstrators moved on to the entrance to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington where their ranks were swelled (photos below).

This time there were 70 anti-Israel activists to just one Israel flag-bearer; Jonathan Hoffman.

The second protest was aimed at the environment wildlife photography competition sponsored by Veolia.

Veolia is a British company that provides environmental services to councils like Camden. For example, it helps to prepare the ground for events taking place in Regent’s Park and cleans up afterwards.

Veolia also stands accused of helping to dump Israeli waste in the West Bank and generally profiting from the “illegal occupation”.

Whoever can categorically say that the occupation is either legal or illegal is better than some of the wisest legal brains in the world.

But for these self-proclaimed lawyers there is no doubt; Israel’s occupation is illegal. However, when you ask many anti-Israel activists to cite any relevant court decisions or resolutions they go mysteriously blank.

And while some of these anti-Israel protestors may be motivated by dark forces others are not even anti-Zionist. However misguided, the latter honestly hold the belief that Israel is at fault by occupying the Palestinians. For them, if Israel unilaterally withdraws from the West Bank then peace would miraculously break out.

And when I say “dark forces” one cannot help but recall the notorious imagery of Jewish shops being singled out for boycott in Germany in the 1930s.

Such an analogy was rejected by an activist I spoke to because “these protests are valid as Israel is controlling the Palestinians and their resources and abusing their human rights and committing war crimes”.

When I asked him why he didn’t protest against and boycott Chinese, Iranian and Sudanese businesses, for example, he replied that “those countries didn’t create Israel and aren’t supported by the British government like Israel is”.

Being British he obviously feels a heavy weight of responsibility.

I suggested that maybe he should then boycott American and British goods due to the anti-war movement’s claims of high civilian casualties in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He laughed and dismissed this as a “silly idea”.

Of course boycotting America and British goods is a “silly idea” as it would be impossible to survive, but in only boycotting Israeli goods these activists are simply being hypocritical.

That said, if the unlikely occurs and the anti-Israel protestors manage to close down Ahava it will be one of the biggest boosts in their well financed campaign of delegitimising Israel.

Ahava in Covent Garden is profitable and the manager continues to claim that the anti-Israel protests actually attract business by drawing attention to the shop.

I hope she is right but, meanwhile, the defamation of Israel continues apace.

Saturday’s protest outside Ahava, Covent Garden 12-2pm (click to enlarge):

Saturday’s protest outside the Natural History Museum 2pm-4pm (click to enlarge):