Stolen Beauty Campaign Against Ahava Continues

By ISM London

31st July 2010: On a humid Saturday afternoon, about twenty campaigners demonstrated once more outside Ahava – retailers of illegal Israeli Settlement good, to express their outrage, raise awareness about the oppression of the Palestinian people and to bring the BDS movement to the streets of London.

Coming from a multitude Palestine solidarity groups, demonstrators carried placards. Leafleted and spoke with shoppers, tourists and passers by, many of whom were receptive, sympathetic and wanted to know more. The J-BIG (Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods) banner was displayed, as were two large Palestinian flags and the colourful Boycott Ahava banner.

Just as in the past, only a few Zionist counter-demonstrators turned up, (including a dog), led by their pied piper, Jonathan Hoffman, Co-Vice Chair of the Zionist Federation. Several times throughout the demonstration, Zionists would enter the shop and re-emerge waving an empty Ahava bag in a bid to provoke demonstrators. These poor attempts were met with indifference as protesters carried on chatting with the members of the public.

Police in overzealous form initially attempted to claim that a poster with a picture of a small forlorn looking Palestinian child holding a barbed wire could offend passers by. Despite threatening arrest, demonstrators successfully argued their case and were able to continue to display the picture which serves only to set out the emotional distress many Palestinian children endure.

During the course of the afternoon, a collection was taken up and £65 was donated for a fund to help free Ahmad Burnat, of Bil’in, a 17 year old Palestinian activist who is being held in Israel’s Ofer military prison until a £1,600 is paid as bail. Bil’in is the site of a weekly non-violent protest against the apartheid wall that has cut through the village taking away precious farmland. Israeli forces in response have deployed tear gas, percussion grenades, rubber coated steel bullets and brute force against protesters and has resulted in a number of injuries and in certain instances death. The Israeli forces have arbitrarily arrested over 90 local Bil’in activists many of whom are languishing in administrative detention, and many of whom are under 18.

The demonstration was the final one prior to a court case between activists and Ahava due to take place on the 9th, 10th and 11th of August. In September 2009, activists blockaded the shop to prevent it from trading with the public, in December 2009 the action was repeated. Where activists set out to do what the government, Camden Trading Standards and the police have so far refused to do, stop the trade in illegal settlement goods, they are now due in court to prove their actions were justified.

The next demonstration is set to take place on Saturday the 14th August and is due to be significantly larger as a response to the forthcoming court case. New faces are always welcome and any and all support is appreciated.

For more background on the Ahava blockades, please see earlier posts on Ahava from September and December 2009.