Just the beginning: Ahava London shut down on the weekend

Report by John, ISM London

In response to a call for action from the popular committee of Bi’lin village in Palestine, on Saturday the 13th of March, over 30 people from different Palestine solidarity groups (including ISM London) turned up for the first fortnightly demonstration outside Ahava in Covent Garden, central London. Ahava is an Israeli cosmetics company based in illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

Despite the presence of a very small Zionist counter demonstration, and some initial attempts by police to move the demonstration across the road away from the shop’s entrance, a noisy presence was maintained for several hours drawing the attention of bemused passers-by and tourists from 12pm onwards.

The demonstration was very well received by members of the public who took leaflets, expressed solidarity and honked car horns. The crowning moment, though, was when the shop admitted defeat and closed early, with the shop manager leaving.

This victory bodes well for the growing grassroots Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, which has helped promote greater links and cooperation between the various Palestine solidarity groups in London.

On its website Ahava claims that ‘True to our philosophy of protecting the innate beauty and resources of the region, we have cultivated a passionate and caring relationship with the Dead Sea’.

It is less forthcoming about the fact that it sells beauty products from illegal settlements in the West Bank. This is why it is the target of a massive boycott campaign by different solidarity groups.

The next demonstration will take place on Saturday the 27th of March, and every fortnight thereafter.

For more details on why you should boycott Ahava specifically, please read CODEPINK’s “Ahava: Stolen Beauty” website.

Updated: 16th March.