Open letter to the UK Jewish Film Festival about Ahava’s sponsorship

Judy Ironside
Festival Director
UK Jewish Film Festival
5.09 Clerkenwell Workshops
27-31 Clerkenwell Close
London EC1R 0AT

28 October 2010

The success and growth of the UK Jewish Film Festival is truly something to be celebrated. As an unrivalled showcase for works by Jewish film makers and on Jewish themes, we wish the festival every success. At the same time, we wish to express our profound concern that this Festival has chosen to accept sponsorship from Ahava, an enterprise that operates in the Israeli kibbutz Matzpe Shalem, within occupied Palestinian territory.

Settlement by the occupier’s citizens in occupied territory is illegal under the Geneva convention of 1949. The UK government rightly considers all settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal. The Ahava manufacturing plant is within occupied Palestinian territory. The settlers have neither sought nor received permission from the Palestinian Authority to operate there. They pay no taxes to the Authority. However they extract the natural resources of the Dead Sea for Israeli profit. Knowing it is in the wrong, Ahava dishonestly markets its products, against Defra guidance, as ‘Made in Israel.’

So it was with great surprise that we discovered a festival of such prestige as the UKJFF accepting sponsorship from Ahava. Ahava’s motives are clear: it has much to gain. Its sponsorship of the UKJFF provides cover for its illegality. But partnership with Ahava undermines the excellent work of the Festival.

Art is to be celebrated as the free expression of the human spirit. Our concern is very specific: Ahava’s operations in the occupied West Bank constitute an enterprise that contributes directly to the limitation of that same freedom of expression for the Palestinian people. As such, it sits in direct opposition to what the Festival stands for. We urge the Directors, even at this late stage, to reject this tainted sponsorship.

.

Diana Neslen – Secretary, Jews for Justice for Palestinians

And JfJfP signatories in film and theatre:
David Aukin, Simon Block, Prof Haim Bresheeth, Mark Forstater, David Freedman, Tony Graham, Miriam Karlin OBE, Mike Leigh, Sonja Linden, Miriam Margolyes OBE, Dr Jonathan Miller, Gillian Slovo, Jennie Stoller, Janet Suzman, Zoë Wanamaker CBE. Late additions: Uri Fruchtman, Alexei Sayle

cc Michael Etherton, Festival Producer
David Kustow, Festival Chair

Excerpt from: “SURFING RABBI” WHEELED OUT

"Trio Infernal": The EDL's "Jewish Division". Roberta Moore (left), is holding the pink sign.

By Maciej Zurowski

Weekly Worker. 28 October 2010, issue 839.

“Palestinians stink,” I heard a female voice shout, as I made my way from the October 23 anti-cuts march in central London to Covent Garden, the day before the English Defence League’s pro-Israel demonstration. Why, it was Roberta Moore, the lovely lady of the EDL’s ‘Jewish Division’, who had decided to brighten up our Saturday afternoon with a bit of racism.

Roberta is a person of many interests: the Brazilian born, ex-Israeli businesswoman counts the Zionist Federation as well as the British National Party among her ‘likes’ on Facebook.[1] The target of her hatred? A small group of Palestine Solidarity Campaign activists handing out leaflets in Monmouth Street about the machinations of Ahava, an Israeli beauty product company with a factory in the Palestinian West Bank and a local outlet.[2] As Roberta stood there grinning vacuously like the reactionary in Ugg boots that she is, the EDL’s entire Jewish Division stood firmly behind her – ie, the other two members.[3]

One of them, a middle-aged woman wrapped in an Israeli flag, interfered whenever pro-Palestine protesters engaged in conversation with passers-by. She was routinely told to get lost. The EDL Jewish Division was completed by a third woman, who periodically shouted, “You’re all Hamas” with a voice so gravelly it would make Lemmy of Motorhead blush.

Also present: a hapless bearded man who waved the LGBT movement’s rainbow flag, while repeatedly shouting, “Hamas kills homos”; and a completely fanaticised silver-haired Zionist who kept exclaiming, “Buy Israeli products here”.[4] With a forceful gesture that verged on assault, he passed me a leaflet appealing to the public to “help the shops in Monmouth Street survive” despite the “disruptive protests”, while casually remarking that “the protesters claim that Israel oppresses the Palestinians – a lie”. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Britain’s new far right. A real motley crew, not like the jack-booted stormtrooper battalions we read about in Socialist Worker at all – and only inadequately preparing us for what we would encounter the following day…

Notes

  1. Israel’s liberal daily, Ha’aretz, suggests that Roberta is a follower of the late Rabbi Kahane, founder of far-right American terrorist group, the Jewish Defence League, and Israel’s neo-fascist Kach party: www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/what-are-israeli-flags-and-jewish-activists-doing-at-demonstrations-sponsored-by-the-english-defence-league-1.307803 . The Jewish Socialist Group’s Charlie Pottins thinks so too: randompottins.blogspot.com/2010/08/snap-what-united-david-and-roberta.html
  2. For more information on the Free Palestine fortnightly demo go to freepalestinefortnightlydemo.wordpress.com
  3. A Ha’aretz reader comments that the EDL Jewish Division consists of Roberta Moore (aka Morrigan Elemeth), Shoshanna/Cassandra Victoria and Stella Solomons (EDL forum user name ‘getonwithit’), who is apparently “also a BNP activist”: www.haaretz.com/misc/comment-page/roberta-moore-19.1198229 . According to her Facebook profile, Solomons holds a media studies degree from Birkbeck University – see what identity politics can do for you!
  4. I believe it was Jonathan Hoffman, vice chair of the Zionist Federation, who frequently appears alongside the EDL Jewish Division’s trio infernal.

Read the full article HERE

NEXT DEMO: Saturday, 6 November, *11:00 am - 1:00pm* (NOTE EARLIER TIME).

 Spa attire recommended, but not required – Bathrobes, Towels, etc…

DEMO REPORT – 23 October

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Video courtesy of SA.

By Bruce, Americans AGAINST Apartheid UK.

There was much activity taking place in London today with the large Trade Union anti-cuts march & rally, as well as the popular Anarchist Book Fair being held.  

However on Monmouth Street, Palestine solidarity activists and campaigners came to take part in a public education campaign, demonstrate and express their outrage over the activities of an illegal company that is manufacturing and selling stolen goods from stolen land; products of the world’s last Apartheid state.

About thirty Ahava boycott campaigners and fewer than ten Zionists were present throughout the two-hour demo. Despite the differences in numbers, many boycott activists were on the receiving end of the Zionist Federation’s Co-Vice Chair Jonathan Hoffman’s tongue. The Hoff’s verbal abuse of Ahava boycott campaigners was so vile, that police once again were forced to have words with him about his behaviour.

Five members of the Jewish Division of the EDL turned up, including Kahanist Roberta Moore. The EDL flew a variety of flags including the GLBT rainbow flag (an insult to the GLBT community), the EDL Jewish Division flag (an insult to the Jewish community), the EDL Flag (an insult to the English people) and a bizarre large St George’s Cross flag with the Union Jack, as well as images of the flags of Israel and Portugal (an insult to the Portuguese) in each of its quadrants. When the first EDL counter-protester turned up and the photographers started taking photos, Mr Hoffman took refuge in the pen reserved for the Ahava boycott campaigners which was surrounded by Palestinian flags.

Zionist “leader” Hoffman and diminutive propagandist Millett adopted very aggressive tactics; approaching and interrupting Ahava boycott campaigners who were talking to members of the public and thrusting Zionist flyers into their hands. This approach often backfired, as the public’s reaction to the Zionist’s intrusion was negative and hostile. This demonstrator was talking to an American woman when Mr Hoffman came running up and shouted “Don’t believe him, he’s lying, read this!” and attempted to thrust a leaflet into her hand. The woman angrily told Mr Hoffman to “get lost”.  A sentiment shared by many on the day.  

A placard decorated with swastikas was displayed within the Zionist/EDL pen that read: “Codepink stinks, self-hating Joos+ Gays”. Many of the Zionists didn’t appear to have any objection to this placard. In a rare display of responsibility, the police instructed that the placard be removed from public view. Another placard that read “Hamas Hate Homos”  attracted police attention as well and also soon disappeared from view.

After the demo, many campaigners went on to South Kensington to help stage the “Alternative Veolia Exhibition” outside the Natural History Museum. click here for video

 

Setting up. At least six cops present.

Zionist Federation Co-Vice Chair Jonathan Hoffman. His hobbies include heckling Holocaust survivors who criticise Israel and obscene language.

Zionist Federation Co-Vice Chair Jonathan Hoffman helping to display the Palestinian flag. Cheers Jonathan!

Swastika-decorated placard in the Zionist Federation/EDL pen. Zionist Federation member Ian Sternberg is on the right.
 

The Bill having a word with Jonathan Hoffman and Zionist propagandist Richard Millett about their behaviour (again).

DRESSING DOWN: Israeli Occupation Army T-shirt.

FLAGGED UP: Martin Sugarman, Chair of the Hackney Anglo-Israel Friendship Association.

 Please note: None of these images have been digitally altered.

 

NEXT DEMO: Saturday, 6 November, *11:00 am - 1:00pm* (NOTE EARLIER TIME).

 Spa attire recommended, but not required – Bathrobes, Towels, etc…

 

OPERATION NO LOVE: MANCHESTER – 10/11 October

By the Royal Hair Force

On the 10-11 October (Sunday & Monday), Professional Beauty Manchester 2010 took place at Manchester Central Exhibition Hall (GMEX Centre). This event is the largest annual exhibition for beauty professionals outside of London.

Ahava was one of the exhibitors and the Ahava Boycott Campaign was determined to ensure that visitors knew the truth about this manufacturer and retailer of illegal Israeli settlement goods. London activists travelled up to Manchester to ensure the success of this public information campaign along with the support of local Palestine solidarity colleagues.

Despite the efforts of security, over 1,500 Boycott Ahava pink flyers were distributed beginning with the long queue of people waiting to enter the exhibition. We enjoyed overwhelming support throughout the two days and some visitors even offered to distribute our flyers inside as well.

The Ahava Boycott banner was displayed directly opposite the main entrance and drew lots of attention and support from people entering and leaving the exhibition. Only one Zionist was encountered who disagreed with the campaign, but graciously accepted a flyer and said he would read it.

On Monday, an activist obtained a ticket, distributed flyers inside the exhibition, carried out a discreet expropriation action and observed the lack of visitors at the Ahava stand.

Mission accomplished.

DEMO REPORT – 9 October

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Video courtesy of SA

Report by Bruce, Americans AGAINST Apartheid UK

Ahava boycott campaigners held another demonstration outside the Israeli cosmetics shop Ahava a week after a successful occupation/lock on that resulted in the shops closure lasting several hours during Saturday, their busiest day of the week.

As usual, about fifty Ahava boycott campaigners outnumbered the fewer than ten Zionist counter-demonstrators who turned up.

Bringing disgrace to the flag of England, the core of the racist EDL’s “Jewish Division” were also present, including Kahanist Roberta Moore (and her dog). Perhaps the others were at the EDL rally in Leicester where thirteen people were arrested for violence-related offences.   

Back in London; the few Zionists kept busy by waving Israeli flags (incorporating a small Union Jack in the upper left hand corner) and ran after people who accepted flyers from Ahava boycotters to try and persuade them to accept theirs as well, usually without much success. One unashamed Zionist had no embassassment of associating with EDL Kahanist Roberta Moore and her small contingent who left after about twenty minutes, no doubt highly embarrassed and humiliated by the small turnout.

Throughout the demonstration, boycott campaigners engaged with a supportive public, not just in front of the shop, but all up and down Monmouth Street.  A boycott campaigner reported that a female Zionist punched her, which in itself is a reflection of Zionism’s modus operandi.

Zionist Federation Vice Co-Chair Jonathan Hoffman and his diminutive propagandist, Richard Millett were also there. Police were forced to have words with Hoffman about his colourful vocabulary that he used to further discredit himself, while Zionist propagandist Millett was busy taking photographs of boycott activists. Both were later observed running after and pleading with members of the public to accept Zionist flyers filled with misinformation praising the racist Israeli apartheid state.

Hoffman and Millett, who already do much disservice to themselves and their cause, failed to turn up at the last demo when the racist EDL’s “Jewish Division” lent their presence to support the Zionist cause. Their members included a balaclava-wearing lout, teenagers who wore Ahava bags over their heads and others who made obscene gestures and shouted anti-Islamic epithets at protestors. Disturbingly, impressionable children were also present with them.  

Jonathan Hoffman, whose self-promoting actions and behaviour in the past speaks for itself, had no qualms about associating with the racist EDL and was photographed alongside EDL Kahanist Roberta Moore a few months ago in a photograph taken by noted photographer David Hoffman (no relation).  Earlier this year, unsavoury Zionist propagandist Millett, who once recognised, was escorted out of a Parliamentary meeting after registering under a false name (along with Hoffman) and has a history of harassing  female campaigners, remains unsuprisingly quiet about the unsavoury Zionist Federation/EDL relationship in his blog.  

Throughout the demonstration, “The Diva” led everyone in singing a variety of boycott songs which further drew attention to the boycott campaign against Ahava – sellers of illegal Israeli settlement Dead Sea products.

Police protection for a business involved in war crimes.

Another large Zionist turnout.

Can you feel the love? Zionist Federation National Council member Ian Sternberg (in colourful cap, back to camera) with EDL Kahanist Roberta Moore (right) and friends.

Jonathan Hoffman, Zionist Federation Co-Vice Chair. A walking advert why people should support Palestine (image not Photoshopped).

Photographing the photographer. Richard Millett; a Zionist propagandist who's also well-known to police.

Take a closer look at the rucksack of Martin Sugarman, Chair of the Hackney Anglo-Israel Friendship Association...

...SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINE!

The voice that destroys Zionists!

NEXT DEMO: 12 noon, Saturday, 23 October.

THE 4th OCCUPATION: THE OCCUPIER BECOMES THE OCCUPIED

"We want the truth to be exposed and justice to be done".

From ISM London

Saturday, 2 October 2010 

Fourth successful occupation of Monmouth Street shop

The central London branch of Israeli settlement company Ahava was occupied by Pro-Palestine activists from 11:30am until 3:00pm today, shutting the shop for business for entire time.  Two activists managed to bring a concrete slab with tubing going through the middle into the shop and lock their arms together inside it, thus blockading the shop. The shop assistant attempted to remove them from the shop but gave up when she realised they had locked their arms inside. 

The police arrived on the scene after 15 minutes and moved supporters carrying a banner outside the shop, where they proceeded to engage with a supportive public about the Palestinian issue and the nature of Ahava’s business. 

Instead of waiting for a specially trained cutting team, at 2pm, the police began to dismantle the concrete lock-on themselves with a hammer, risking injury to the activists whose arms were locked inside. Luckily, no one was hurt and by 2.30pm they removed the activists from the lock-on and arrested them for aggravated trespass (ie: committing trespass with the intent to stop a lawful activity). The aggravated trespass charge will of course be challenged by asserting that Ahava’s business is not lawful and so no lawful activity was halted. 

When activists supporting the action left the scene at 3pm, the store was still closed, brining the total closure time to at least three and a half hours, over half of its opening hours on the day on which Ahava generally receives the most business; Saturday. 

Ahava sells beauty products that are manufactured in the illegal Israeli West Bank settlement of Mitzpe Shalem, on the Dead Sea shore, six miles north of the Green Line. Despite operating from a settlement, Ahava label their goods ‘Made in Israel’ and so are not only guilty of breaching international law by operating on occupied land, but are also avoiding paying UK duties by taking advantage of tax breaks offered as part of the EU-Israel Trade Agreement, tax breaks that the European High Court ruled in February do not apply to settlement goods, after a case involving settlement company Soda Club Inc . 

An international boycott campaign against Ahava has been gaining momentum during the last three years. Actions have taken place in London, Tel Aviv, New York, Las Vegas, Paris, Washington DC, Santa Monica, Chicago, Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Austin, Montreal and the Czech Republic. The American peace group CODEPINK launched its official campaign against Ahava called ‘Stolen Beauty’ in July 2009. 

Since January 2009, three occupations have taken place inside the Ahava shop on Monmouth Street. The charges were dropped against activists who took part in the first occupation and the case against activists who participated in the other two collapsed in August after the store manager failed to turn up for court, possibly under pressure, as the company would have been forced to expose their illegal activities in court. 

A regular picket of the shop takes place every other Saturday and the next will take place this coming Saturday, 9th October, between 12 and 2 pm. 

Educating both the police and the public about Ahava's illegal activities.

There was no shortage of sympathetic people who wanted to know more.

The action and campaign enjoyed the support of most people and drew the attention of passers-by.

A massive crowd gathered in front of the shop curious to know what was happening.

Reflecting...

Cops later tried to prevent people from approaching the shop. Meanwhile inside, the activists were being improperly removed from their lock-on by the police.

Activists were forced to shield their faces with their hands to protect themselves from flying pieces of concrete while police hammered away.

Without any concern for either their own or the activists safety, the police on the scene carelessly used a carpentry hammer to break apart the concrete lock-on instead of calling for a specialist cutting unit.

 More coverage HERE