11 December 2010
This afternoon, campaigners were treated to the sight of the front of 39 Monmouth Street decorated in a familiar seasonal colour – or was it a symbolic colour? Crimson added a realistic, visual reminder, along with our presence, to Ahava’s complicity in the criminal oppression of the Palestinian people.
Throughout today’s two-hour demo, which was also attended by eight police constables, about fifteen to twenty Ahava boycott activists turned up to educate the public about the international campaign against this notorious company. Protestors donned Father Christmas hats and sung carols, including the popular “Away with Ahava” parody, based on “Away in a Manger”. Repeating what we first did several months ago, some boycott activists wore a variety of signs, including ones that read “Ahava: Not Fair Trade”, “Ahava: Stolen Goods from Stolen Land”, “Boycott Ahava” and “Ahava: Dead Sea Mud, Palestinian Blood”. As a wink to the anti-Ahava, Dutch Bathrobe Brigade, one placard read: “Ahava: NOT for me” (see video below).
There were a few new people who turned up today, including an activist from the Tower Hamlets-Jenin Friendship Association www.thjfa.org.uk who had heard about the Stolen Beauty campaign and wanted to join us.
Being that their Islamophobic EDL colleagues have abandoned them, only about seven Zionists showed up which included the usual faces: Jonathan Hoffman, Co-Vice-Chair of the Zionist Federation, who was aggressively shouting and thrusting flyers at people, propagandist Richard Millett who was taking photos and trying to chat up young female activists and the willowy, bearded chair of the Hackney Anglo-Israel Friendship Association, Martin Sugarman, who was in another world whilst waving his Israel-Union Jack flag. A few reverted to one of their favourite tactics, which is to approach boycott campaigners and start to shout abuse, which more often than not, resulted in a police escort back to their pen. A counter-protestor once again suggested that if activists agree not to undertake direct action, then the Zionists wouldn’t turn up to counter-demonstrate, which sounds very much like the Zios want to throw in the towel and admit defeat.
During today’s demo, several counter-demonstrators voiced highly dubious claims that the Ahava factory in Mitzpe Shalem was benefitting and providing employment for Palestinians. So to set the record straight, let’s re-visit one of our sources, which comes from www.stolenbeauty.org:
Before CODEPINK launched its Stolen Beauty AHAVA boycott campaign, we sent a “fact-finding mission” to Mitzpe Shalem. Two CODEPINK activists visited the Ahava factory at Mitzpe Shalem in early June 2009. They observed that many of the employees at the factory were Russian immigrants who were bused in from communities near Jerusalem.
A journalist from the American-Jewish online daily magazine The Tablet who wrote an article in August 2009 about CODEPINK’s Stolen Beauty boycott campaign http://www.tabletmag.com/news-and-politics/14526/pink-panthers received no reply from the Ahava about its illegal practices in response to his queries, but an Israeli government spokesman offered this answer: “The Palestinians did nothing with this land when they had it…And the Palestinians still have access to the Dead Sea. If they wanted to, they could set up a factory themselves.” This response was at best disingenuous, as it has been well documented that Palestinian access to the Dead Sea for even a day at the beach is highly restricted by the Israeli Defense Forces and Israel’s extensive system of roadblocks throughout the Occupied West Bank. As just one example, an article from The Independent headlined “Palestinians barred from Dead Sea beaches to appease Israeli settlers” http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/palestinians-barred-from-dead-sea-beaches-to-appease-israeli-settlers-846948.html, outlines how difficult it is for Palestinians to reach the shores—the very same shores that are being exploited for profit by Ahava.
Today’s demonstration was held in solidarity with an American Ahava boycott action organised by Greater Boston CODEPINK against the department store “Lord & Taylor” who also sell Ahava products (below).
Back in London, boycott activists received the usual support from members of the public, some who knew about the boycott campaign and some who didn’t. One person said to us: “Well done!” and another commented: “It’s great what you’re doing, keep it up!”
Dutch/English video from Ahava boycott activists in Holland: “AHAVA, Not for me!” (It’s not for us either)
Visit the Dutch Ahava Boycott campaign website in English, courtesy of Google Translate here
Afterwards, at an anonymous train station in Central London, we spotted an interesting Israeli Ministry of Tourism advertising hoarding adorned with BOYCOTT ISRAELI GOODS stickers (below).