REPORT: AHAVA DEMO

Saturday, 28 August

Video by AS

Nancy K and friends on Monmouth Street

Despite it being a bank holiday weekend and an anti-fascist rally being held in Bradford, there was an impressive turnout at the fortnightly Ahava demonstration on Monmouth Street with about 30 demonstrators turning up, including Nancy Kricorian, CodePink’s Stolen Beauty Co-ordinator who was on vacation in London. The Zionist counter demonstrators amounted to a small handful – and their pals, the EDL, didn’t turn up at all. A few days before, the frontage of the Ahava shop was redecorated with red paint and some of it was still visible. As well as the security thug employed by Ahava at the entrance to the shop, there were at least SEVEN cops protecting this illegal business - and most of them were standing by the entrance in front! The only customers during the demo were Zionists who emerged holding up (empty) Ahava bags to try and agitate and demoralize the demonstrators, who ignored them and continued to engage with the public. The door of the shop was LOCKED and everytime one of the Zionists wanted to enter, it had to be

BOYCOTT ISRAELI APARTHEID!

unlocked by the security thug. Exposing their true nature, one Zionist tried to punch a demonstrator and was taken away and given a formal caution by police. Banners included the Ahava Boycott Campaign group, Americans AGAINST Apartheid UK, Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a ‘Stolen Beauty’ CodePink banner that Nancy K. brought along. A representative of the decade-old Marks & Spencer campaign also turned up in solidarity and one demonstrator brought along a Chinese gong to accompany the chants.

Would YOU shop here?

Flag designed by the EDL

Empty Bag Brigade

A colourful turnout! BOYCOTT AHAVA!

Re-decoration: Red says it all!

"The Hoff" goes full throttle!

 

"The Hoff"

 

LEGAL VICTORY FOR BDS CAMPAIGNERS

The Middle East Monitor: http://www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk/resources/commentary-and-analysis/1435-legal-victory-for-bds-campaigners

Dr. Hanan Chehata

18 August 2010

Charges against four Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigners have been dropped in London because of the clearly illegal activities of an Israeli cosmetics firm against which the four had been demonstrating. The case threw up some unusual and possibly ground-breaking legal arguments.

Under international law, Israel’s settlements on the occupied West Bank are illegal. The European Union, the United Nations and the International Court of Justice have all confirmed the illegality of the settlements, a position acknowledged by the majority of the world’s nations. Given that well-established fact, it follows that companies which use illegally occupied land to produce and sell products of any kind are producing and selling illegal goods. It also follows that anyone buying such goods is helping to finance the ongoing illegal occupation of Palestinian land. This is the message that BDS campaigners have been trying to get across to the general public.

Every other weekend there is a small demonstration held outside Ahava, an Israeli-owned beauty and cosmetic store in London’s trendy Covent Garden. It is held to protest against the sale of beauty products which are made in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem in the Occupied West Bank and made with mud taken from the Dead Sea near Kaliya. This happens without the permission of, or compensation for, the Palestinians to whom the land truly belongs.

In September and December 2009 four campaigners went into the Ahava store, tied themselves to two concrete filled oil drums and refused to leave. This resulted in the shop being closed down for several hours on each occasion. The “Ahava Four” were charged subsequently with two counts of trespass offences under section 68 and section 69 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

When the case came to court, the first charge was dropped by the prosecution on the very first day because section 68 is an offence of aggravated trespass whereby the offence requires the accused to be found trespassing on land and doing something to disrupt or obstruct any “lawful activity” on that land. Of course, if Ahava is selling products from an illegal settlement then it is not engaged in lawful activity, so the campaigners were not disrupting or obstructing “lawful activity”. The prosecution had a problem right from the start and the fact that it dropped the charge speaks for itself.

Furthermore, Ahava labels its products “Made by Dead Sea Laboratories Limited, Dead Sea, Israel”, in clear violation of British law; firms are considered to be committing an offence if their labels provide the public with misleading information about the origins of their products (Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008). By labelling products manufactured in an illegal settlement as products of Israel the company is in breach of UK trading standards. According to the British Government’s own DEFRA guidelines 2009, “the government considers that traders would be misleading consumers, and would therefore almost certainly be committing an offence, if they were to declare produce from the [Occupied Palestinian Territories] (including from the West Bank) as ‘Produce of Israel…’ This is because the area does not fall within the internationally recognised borders of the state of Israel.” As such, if the prosecution had decided to take the case against the demonstrators any further, this would have given rise to a legal ruling on these issues too, one which many Israeli settlement companies are unwilling to risk.

The second set of charges relating to section 69 were also dropped because the Ahava branch manager, who was called to be the primary witness, refused to attend court despite being issued with a court summons and the threat of an arrest warrant being issued against her. This was probably an attempt to avoid having Ahava’s activities being opened up for public scrutiny if the case proceeded.

As it stands, this can be counted as a legal success for the BDS movement as it shows that companies such as Ahava know that what they are doing is ultimately indefensible. It should serve as a wakeup call to them and all other companies engaged in similar illegal activities that they are in breach of both UK domestic and international law and that if they continue to produce and sell illegal settlement goods they will not do so unopposed.

The outcome of this case will probably also serve to embolden protesters and campaigners against Ahava and companies like it. Protests against Ahava are not just confined to London; in America, CodePink (an American, women led, anti-war peace group) have been leading a promising campaign against the company. They have campaigned in New York, Texas, Washington and other parts of the US with banner slogans such as “Ahava is a dirty business” and “Ahava puts a pretty face on its crimes”. Elsewhere, groups such as the Dutch Bathrobe Brigade have held numerous protests in Amsterdam and French campaigners are also engaged in protests and legal challenges against companies like Sephora (a French cosmetic retain chain) which sell Ahava products.

What is surprising is that it is left to individuals and BDS groups to bring these issues to light. When it is so obvious that laws are being broken, the British and other governments and their agencies should be enforcing their own laws. Until they do, more and more people are joining the BDS movement daily, each one of whom will do their part to put an end to the shameful trade in illegal settlement goods.

ARTICLE: SETTLEMENT TRADE IN THE SPOTLIGHT

 
By Simon Natas

16 August 2010

The acquittal this week of four London-based activists for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) raises profound issues for traders in products which originate from illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). The case also poses challenging questions for the UK authorities, who have failed to confront the legal and moral problems surrounding settlement trade.

In September and December last year, the activists entered a shop selling products from cosmetics company Ahava in Monmouth Street, Covent Garden in London, and locked themselves to oil drums filled with concrete. In both cases, the shop was forced to cease trading for several hours.

As a result, the activists were charged with offences under s.68 and s.69 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. The section 68 offence, known as aggravated trespass, is committed where the accused trespasses on land and does something intended to obstruct or disrupt any lawful activity.

An offence is committed under s.69 of the Act where the accused refuses to leave the land as soon as practicable having been ordered to do so by the senior police officer at the scene. The officer must have reasonable grounds to believe that the person subject to the order is committing, or about to commit an offence of aggravated trespass.

Even if it subsequently emerges that the activity which the accused intended to disrupt was unlawful, he or she will be guilty of the offence under s.69 as long as the police officer had good reason to believe otherwise.

The defendants certainly set out to prevent the shop from trading. The central issue was whether the shop was trading lawfully, defence contending that it was not.

The defendants adduced evidence that the products on sale in the shop were manufactured at a plant in Mitzpe Shalem, an illegal settlement in the OPT. It was argued that the trade in Ahava products encouraged the growth of the settlement, thereby assisting in the transfer of Israeli civilians into the OPT in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva convention.

But the origin of Ahava products had other, more immediate legal implications. Firstly, the goods on sale in the shop are labelled “Made by Dead Sea Laboratories Limited, Dead Sea, Israel.” This suggests that the goods are manufactured within Israel’s recognised borders.

A retailer may commit offences by presenting misleading information about the origin of a product. For example, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 makes it a criminal offence to mislead consumers as to the geographical or commercial origin of a product.

The UK government’s own guidance to retailers (“the DEFRA guidelines”), published in December 2009, state that “traders would be misleading consumers, and would therefore almost be certainly committing an offence, if they were to declare produce from the OPT (including from the West Bank) as ‘Produce of Israel’.” Relying on the government’s own legal advice, the defendants argued that by passing off settlement goods as produce of Israel, Ahava was committing criminal offences in domestic law.

On the first day of trial, the prosecution dropped the s.68 charge, which meant that they would not seek to prove that the Ahava shop was trading lawfully. The significance of this decision was obvious.

The prosecution pressed on with the s.69 charge but the Ahava employee on whose evidence the prosecution relied refused to attend court, even after a witness summons was issued. Had she attended and then been cross examined by defence lawyers, Ahava’s activities would have been subject to very public scrutiny.

The lessons for settlement traders are obvious. When BDS activists target companies that profit directly from the occupation and are prosecuted, the illegality of the settlements will become an issue. As the Ahava case shows, illegality in international law is likely to give rise to illegality in domestic law. Companies engaged in settlement trade will find that their activities are brought under the legal spotlight, something they are unlikely to enjoy.

But there are also problems for the authorities. How do they police direct action against companies whose activities may themselves be unlawful? For how long can police officers continue to plead ignorance about the legal issues surrounding settlement trade, especially when activists carefully explain why it is they feel compelled to act? The authorities have shown little willingness to deal with complaints against Ahava, but public pressure is growing. It is time that consumer protection rules were properly enforced.

The government should also press the EU to conduct a fundamental review of the EU-Israel trade agreement in light of evidence that it is being wrongly exploited by settlement traders and cannot be properly policed. Beyond this, the government should consider whether it should take steps to prevent the marketing of all settlement produce in the UK.

No one can seriously doubt that settlement trade drives settlement growth. Like all governments, the UK is under a duty to bring an end to serious breaches of peremptory norms of international law. The denial of Palestinian self-determination through settlement expansion surely comes within this definition.

Simon Natas acted for the defendants in the “Ahava Four” case. He is a partner and solicitor advocate at Irvine Thanvi Natas solicitors, specialising in criminal defence and human rights law.

REPORT: AHAVA DEMO, 14 August. ZIONISTS & THE RACIST EDL UNITE!

Zionists and racist EDL unite to counter Ahava Protest

published 14/08/2010 by Rose, ISM London http://www.ism-london.org.uk/2186

By Rose – ISM London

In celebration of the recent court victory in which four campaigners were acquitted for blockading the Covent Garden Ahava shop in 2009, approximately 60 protestors gathered outside its doors in Monmouth Street, central London, to celebrate and continue promoting boycott, divestment and sanctions against the Israeli occupation. While demonstrators were met by the usual Zionist counter-demonstrators, on this occasion they arrived flanked by the openly racist English Defence League.

Ahava, the cosmetics retailer and spa outlet, manufactures its products on the illegal Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem. It has openly flouted tax requirements by exploiting the EU-Israel trade agreement and violates UK DEFRA guidelines in respect of proper labelling. The campaign against Ahava supports the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions as a global nonviolent means to challenge the Israeli Occupation of Palestine and the ongoing siege upon Gaza.

At the outset the small group of around ten EDL members remained close to the Zionist contingent of Ahava supporters, handing out leaflets. Over the course of the demonstration they began to take an increasingly prominent role, culminating with the unravelling of a flag of St. George and chanting “E-E-EDL.” This was accompanied by racist remarks towards a number of Ahava protestors who were of Asian/Middle Eastern descent. What was more surprising, and unsettling, was the apparent unwillingness of the Zionist contingent to distance themselves from the EDL.

Vice chair of the Zionist Federation of Britain Jonathon Hoffman was present and took no action to put some distance between the two groups. This comes only days after a recent report in the Israeli paper Haaretz claiming that the Board of Deputies of British Jews were not affiliated with the EDL and did not want anything to do with them. The stark contrast between the formal statement and the reality in front of the Ahava shop, in which senior members of the ZF stood along side EDL members, undercuts any public statements and underlines the racism inherent in the Zionists’ agenda.

The EDL’s history of far right opinions and racist chanting and abuse — as well as their violence and hatred towards Muslim communities — have earned them a variety of unflattering labels, including ‘fascist’. Jewish groups have long since been targeted by rightwing, racist and fascist groups, so to see the Zionists and the EDL united against Palestinians illustrates that as far as the Zionist Federation is concerned, the enemy of one’s enemy may become an ally no matter what they stand for. That they were welcomed by the Zionists may be shocking to some, but might also be reflective of their desperation for support in the UK.

This is not the first instance of the two groups coming together in support of each other. In the immediate aftermath of the brutal attack on the Mavi Marmarra flotilla by Israeli commandos in which nine human rights activists were murdered, the EDL joined up with Zionists outside the Israeli embassy in Knightsbridge to show support for the Israeli state’s violent actions.  In addition, the EDL marched to Downing Street two weeks ago with Israeli flags being held alongside British and St. George flags.

Despite their presence and the racist slurs they shouted at members of the Ahava demonstration, the protest took place without violence.  The verbal abuse hurled by EDL members and their Zionist partners was met with a series of police cautions. Numerous members of the public stopped to chat with Palestinian solidarity activists and showed support. A small brass band played music to entertain the masses and build a celebratory spirit as many people chanted for justice and for an end to the sale of Israeli and Settlement produce.

COURT VICTORY FOR ‘AHAVA FOUR’

report from ISM : http://www.ism-london.org.uk/2175

“Ahava Four” found not guilty of trespass in Israeli store

Published 10 August 2010Posted in: News, Press ReleasesTags:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Four campaigners against Israeli apartheid were acquitted today of all charges related to two direct action protests against the Israeli cosmetics retailer Ahava in Covent Garden, London. The campaigners locked themselves onto concrete-filled oil drums inside the shop, closing it down for two days in September and December of 2009.

The campaigners insist that they are legally justified in their actions as the shop’s activities are unlawful. All cosmetics on sale in the shop originate from Mitzpe Shalem, an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, and are deliberately mislabelled “Made in Israel”.

To date, no campaigner has been successfully prosecuted and Ahava has consistently refused to cooperate with the prosecuting authorities.

On the first day of trial, prosecutors dropped aggravated trespass charges. This would have required the prosecution to demonstrate Ahava was engaged in lawful activity. Significantly, the CPS decided that this was not something they would attempt to prove.

The primary witness for the prosecution, Ahava’s store manager, refused to attend court to testify despite courts summons and threats of an arrest warrant leading to the activist’s acquittal on all remaining charges.

Ms Crouch, one of the four  acquitted today said: “This is a small victory in the wider campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. We’ll continue to challenge corporate complicity in the occupation and Israel’s impunity on the international stage.”

Mr Matthews, another acquitted campaigner, added: “The message is clear.  If your company is involved in apartheid and war crimes and occupying Palestinian land, people will occupy your shop.”

The British government, the European Union, the United Nations and the International Court of Justice all consider Israel’s settlements to be illegal, as they are in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention are also criminal offences under UK law (International Criminal Court Act 2001).

For more information please contact the defendant’s solicitor Simon Natas on: 0208 522 7707

NOTES FOR EDITORS

In December 2009, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) issued guidance to retailers concerning produce grown in the occupied Palestinian territories.

It states that: “The Government considers that traders would be misleading consumers and would therefore almost be certainly committing an offence, if they were to declare produce from the OPT (including from the West Bank) as ‘Produce of Israel’. This would apply irrespective of whether the produce was from a Palestinian producer or from an Israeli settlement in the OPT. This is because the area does not fall within the internationally recognised borders if the state of Israel.”

DEFRA Technical advice: labelling of produce grown in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, 11 December 2009

IPSC Statement in Solidarity with the London ‘Ahava 4′

Subject: IPSC Statement in Solidarity with the ‘Ahava 4′

Date: Monday 9th August 2010

To: The ‘Ahava 4′, London

Dear colleagues,

I am writing on behalf of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) to express our support for you as you face trial on ridiculous charges of “aggravated trespass” for blockading a London-based Ahava store. You should be commended, not criminalised, for your attempts to prevent the sale of these illegal products of Israeli apartheid and colonialism.

The allegations are patently absurd, but they are also very grave. As with the recent cases of the “Scottish PSC 5″ and the “EDO 7″, this is another appalling attempt to criminalise one of the most effective tools at the disposal of international Palestine solidarity activists, namely the Boycott Campaign.

We wish you all the best in the trial, and we await what – as with the SPSC 5 and EDO 7 – can only be the dismissal of these ludicrous charges.

You have our full support.

In Solidarity

Freda Hughes
National Chairperson
Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign

MASS DEMONSTRATION CALLED FOR ON SATURDAY, 14 AUGUST, TO SUPPORT ACTIVISTS ON TRIAL

On the 9th, 10th and 11th of August 2010, four protestors will appear in court facing the charge of aggravated trespass for having twice blockaded the Israeli-owned cosmetics shop, Ahava. Intending to prevent the sale of illegal settlement goods, the trial forms part of an ongoing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against the cosmetics shop and other consumer goods retailers which trade in products manufactured or grown on Israeli Settlements which have been recognised as illegal under international law by both the United Nations and the British government. 

 The London based campaign against Ahava compliments a larger international campaign against the company which mis-labels it’s products “Dead Sea: Israel”. Protests against Ahava have taken place in the US, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and France [1], with the French collective CAPJPO (Coordination pour une Paix Juste au Proche Orient) bringing the case against Ahava to French courts [2].

Irregular protests had taken place outside the shop over the course of 2009, including the first ever blockade [3] in the midst of Operation Cast. In September 2009[4] two protestors went into the shop and locked onto a concrete block to prevent them being moved, in December 2009 [5] the action was repeated.  However it was in 2010 that the campaign really gathered momentum and has seen protests take place outside the Covent Garden shop on a fortnightly basis. In addition, the actions have been supplimented by formal complaints to Camden Trading Standards calling for investigations, formal complaints to police, parliamentary questions and lobbying of MPs.

The campaign incorporates a wide number of organisations inclusive of ISM-London, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Kings College Palestine Solidarity, and many others. What the blockaders set out to accomplish was 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.

In response to the forthcoming court case a large demonstration has been called for the 14th August from 12 noon till 2pm. Bringing together concerned people to send a clear message regarding the ongoing trade in settlement produce and Israeli produce in general. More information on the trial and what comes from it will be posted in the forthcoming week so do look out for notifications.

——————————————————————————————-

Ahava’s products are manufactured on the Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem and where the factory is a cooperative integral to the settlement, consequently profits go towards making the illegal settlement financially viable. Where the Fourth Geneva Conventions state that it is illegal for an occupying power to transfer civilian population into an occupied territory, and that an occupying power must not appropriate natural resources from an occupied territory, Ahava’s business practices thus serve to violate international law. Additional information on Ahava can be found here [6].

Furthermore, Ahava’s business practices are due to come before the Russell Tribunal on Palestine which will next convene in London in November 2010. The peoples tribunal will place the company’s actions within the context of international law and consider its complicity in possible war crimes

The BDS initiative [7] was born in 2005 through a call by Palestinian civil society groups and organisations seeking a global non-violent means to challenge the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine. It has been taken up by numerous groups and organisations internationally and has become a unifying global movement for those seeking justice for Palestine.

Ahava, 39 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden, London , WC2H 9DD

[1] www.stolenbeauty.org

[2] http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11341.shtml

[3] http://www.ism-london.org.uk/107

[4] www.ism-london.org.uk/59

[5] http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/12/443271.html

[6] http://codepinkalert.org/article.php?id=5192

[7] http://bdsmovement.net/?q=node/52)

Report on the 31st of July demonstration

report on the 31st of July by one of the demonstrators:

31 July: On a humid Saturday afternoon, about twenty campaigners again
demonstrated outside Ahava – sellers of illegal Israeli settlement goods,
to express their outrage, raise awareness about the oppression of the
Palestinian people and to bring the BDS movement to the streets of London.

More police were in attendance than usual, allegedly for training
purposes, so they said. 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. One
Zionist, wearing a hat and sunglasses, preferring anonymity, spent the
whole afternoon waving an Israeli flag.

Demonstrators carried placards, leafleted and spoke to 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.

Several times throughout the demonstration, counter-demonstrators would
enter the Ahava shop and re-emerge shouting and waving an empty Ahava bag
trying unsuccessfully to demoralise demonstrators, who ignored them and
continued to campaign and engage with the public.

Overzealous police initially judged that a poster displaying a photograph
of a Palestinian child behind barbed wire was offensive and not be
displayed despite protestors objections. Members of the public sided with
the protestors and argued that the photograph wasn’t offensive. After
discussions, police eventually conceded and the poster was displayed for
all to see the stark reality of Israeli occupation.

A collection was taken up and £65.00 was collected for a fund to help free
Ahmad Burnat, of Bil’in, a Palestinian activist, who is being held in
Israel’s Ofer Military prison until a £1,600.00 equivalent is paid to
Israeli authorities to secure his release.

Afterwards demonstrators joined outraged anti-fascists protesting the
English National Alliance/EDL march to Downing Street where they submitted
a petition to the Prime Minister. Amongst the numerous St George and Union
Jack flags, there were also several Israeli flags being carried by the
hooligans marching down Whitehall, many of whom shouted abuse and were
throwing objects. This was the surreal proof that there is a link between
the Zionist and fascist movements in the UK.