Bin Veolia campaign in North London

On 22 September, Dump Veolia campaigners demonstrated outside Camden Town Hall in London where the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) Board was meeting regarding the new £4.7 billion waste contract in which Veolia was shortlisted.

This demonstration, organised by the North London No to Veolia Action Group (No2VAG) attracted over fifty people, many carrying banners and signs that lined the entire front of the building. There were contingents from throughout London, as well as from surrounding areas. Groups represented included Amnesty International, United Nations Association, Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP) and Neturei Karta.

Three wise monkeys (in monkey suits – see photo below) protested outside and later sat in on the meeting as a protest against the Board’s refusal to engage with reasoned argument, to agree that complicity in war crimes amounts to grave misconduct and for refusing to allow a delegation to present the case for excluding Veolia from the contract.

The Three Wise Monkeys outside Camden Town Hall.

A nasty incident allegedly occurred when one of the NLWA Board members – who’s also an elected official – started verbally abusing a campaigner.

Cllr Brian Coleman: “Scum”

Brian Coleman, a North London Waste Authority Board member, a Barnet Borough Councilor, as well as a member of the London Assembly for Barnet and Camden, shouted “scum” and other slurs directed at a Muslim woman who was handing out No2VAG leaflets to people entering the building.

Coleman, a former chair of Finchley Friends of Israel and presently a member of the Conservative Friends of Israel, later apologised when he was identified to police by outraged onlookers.

This is par for the course for Coleman who reportedly responds to emails that make a painstaking case for excluding Veolia with one-line replies reading “Don’t contact me again about this.”

Scum” is a new departure for this elected official.

It’s of grave concern that on the board of the NLWA there’s a Councilor who’s not only abusive and a disgrace to public office, but with a clear bias in favour of Veolia, which is one of the two shortlisted bidders for the NLWA massive £4.7 billion, 30-year contract.

A final farewell to Monmouth Street

Report by Bruce, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG)

Photos by Bruce/Tapash, London BDS

24 September 2011

On a sunny and mild Saturday afternoon, about ten campaigners, including two from Brighton, gathered one last time in front of the former Ahava shop on a day that would have been a fortnightly picket.  

Thanks to the regular protests, part of a campaign that started in 2009, Ahava’s landlord refused to renew its lease and on the 20th of September 2011, Ahava closed its only UK shop located on Monmouth Street, near to London’s Covent Garden.

Whilst campaigners were present, workmen were clearing out the last shop fittings and placing them in a nearby lorry. As seen from the photographs, the Ahava lettering was removed from the front of the shop and the inside was almost totally empty.

Outside was a skip whose contents included a few large plasterboard advertising panels and next to the skip were placed metal barriers stacked on top of each other, to be used for a demonstration that never materialised.

Ahava’s Managing Director of its UK arm, who also once served in the Israeli Occupation Force’s intelligence unit, spotted us and was last seen scurrying down Monmouth Street.

The only police presence was when a police car pulled up and its driver briefly exchanged greetings before speeding off. We were told on several occasions that there are many in authority who privately wanted Ahava out, though they had to be seen, quite understandably, to remain impartial.

After reminiscing over coffee, campaigners headed off to the Eid Festival in nearby Trafalgar Square to celebrate – which was a fitting end to this campaign.

Well done to all who made it a success.

A video report from infolive.tv, an Israeli news & information service:

And some images as well…

One last photocall.

Ahava: Rubbish inside, rubbish outside.

As no Zionist Federation riff-raff turned up, there were no need for these.

An empty shop brings this campaign to a close.

With love from London.

A Monmouth Street retrospective

With the welcome departure on September 20th of the Ahava shop from Monmouth Street, here’s a historical timeline of the London campaign, complete with links:

10 January 2009 Activists stage the first occupation of the Ahava shop on Monmouth Street in London. Three activists arrested. Charges later dropped.

14 February 2009 - Valentines Day picket outside Ahava shop organised by Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG). Monthly pickets held several times thereafter.

7 March 2009 - Ahava shop pickets continue attended by J-BIG and other activists.

18 September 2009 - Second Ahava occupation. Shop closed for several hours after two activists lock themselves to an oil drum filled with concrete inside the Ahava shop and are arrested for aggravated trespass.

19 September 2009 Ahava International Day of Action. Campaigners stage protests outside stores in London, Amsterdam, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles.

12 December 2009 - Third occupation inside the Ahava shop. Two activists arrested for aggravated trespass.

19 December 2009 - Ahava bathrobe demonstration.

1 January 2010 - Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (London) disseminates The Case Against AHAVA by CODEPINK’s Stolen Beauty Campaign Manager, Nancy Kricorian.

27 January 2010 – MP Phyllis Starkey denounces Ahava’s fraudulent labelling practices during debate in Parliament on Israeli “settlement products”.

Early March 2010 – A grassroots coalition of activists propose holding regular fortnightly demonstrations outside the UK’s only Ahava shop in response to an appeal from the West Bank village of Bil’in.

13 March 2010 The first fortnightly demo outside Ahava attracts about thirty protesters and causes the shop to close early. Fortnightly demonstrations continue until 10 September 2011.

9/10 August 2010 - Trial of four activists, all charged with aggravated trespass, who locked themselves to concrete-filled oil drums inside the Ahava shop in Covent Garden in Sept and Dec 2009. All four are acquitted after the manager refuses to testify.

14 August 2010 – The Islamophobic English Defence League’s first appearance alongside the Zionist Federation at the Saturday fortnightly demo.

26 August 2010 Unknown person(s) target the Ahava shop with paint.

2 October 2010 - Fourth occupation inside Ahava forces shop to close. Two activists arrested.

20/21 November 2010 Unknown person(s) glue Ahava’s door locks, thus delaying the shop’s opening on the day of the Zionist Federation-sponsored BUYcott. The BUYcott doesn’t materialise when the right-wing English Defence League’s ‘Jewish Division’ announce they will also attend.

20-22 November 2010 - Ahava in the dock at the Russell Tribunal on Palestine London Session. CODEPINK’s Nancy Kricorian and Rae Abileah testify against the company. Ahava is found to be complicit in Israel’s violations of international law.

22 November 2010 - Fifth Ahava occupation during the last day of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. American CODEPINK activists Nancy Kricorian and Rae Abileah present. Ahava shop forced to close and two activists arrested.

9-24 December 2010 Boycott campaigners are present outside Ahava almost daily throughout December and influence shoppers in the run up to the festive season.

17 December 2010Ahava employee calls a Jewish boycott campaigner a Christ killer. Zionists defend anti-Semitic comment

14 January 2011 – Major UK retailer John Lewis confirms that it no longer sells Ahava products.

12 February 2011 – A Valentine for Ahava dedicated to the memory of Jawaher Abu Rahmah who was killed by tear gas while a bystander at an anti-wall demonstration in Bil’in.

21 – 23 March 2011 – Four activists on trial for aggravated trespass. During the three-day hearing, the defence demonstrated that Ahava cosmetics are manufactured on stolen Palestinian land. Neither the District Judge, Ian Baker nor the prosecution challenged the assertion that the settlements are illegal in international law. Though all four activists are found guilty, District Judge Baker in his summing up states: I reach this conclusion with considerable hesitancy.”

31 March 2011 - VICTORY! JCrap (the Zionist Jewish Chronicle newspaper) reports that Ahava’s landlord will not renew its lease due to the ongoing protests. A neighbouring shopkeeper tells a reporter: I’m pleased Ahava is leaving. It’s brought the street down. Everyone would like them to leave. I wish they had left two years ago.”

20 September 2011Ahava leaves Monmouth Street as a direct result of the campaign that began in 2009.

24 September 2011Several activists gather for one last time in front of the almost empty Ahava shop, bringing the two-year campaign to an end.

Ahava’s last day

September 20th: Lights out for Ahava! Boxes packed and ready to go.

These empty shelves aren't the result of any Zionist BUYcott, but of the success of a campaign against this notorious company.

NO SALE!

This time the shop really IS closed!

September 21st: All the boxes have gone.

September 22nd: Looking more like a construction site.

September 24th: An empty shop brings this campaign to a close.

The above images are the end result of a successful campaign to cleanse London’s Monmouth Street of Ahava, a notorious retailer of Dead Sea beauty products made from natural resources plundered from the Palestinian people and manufactured on an illegal West Bank settlement.

Throughout this time, campaigners have engaged and distributed flyers to thousands of UK residents and international visitors informing them about Ahava’s unethical and illegal practices. 

This, the UK component of CODEPINK’s international ‘Stolen Beauty’ campaign has used many tactics including fortnightly public demonstrations, legal challenges, occupations and other forms of direct action. 

The Ahava Boycott Campaign proved successful due to the efforts, hard work and dedication of all the activists, truthtellers and human rights campaigners, some who made many sacrifices and all who gave so generously of their time.

Should Ahava relocate to other premises, activists vowed to continue the campaign.

Protest at the American Embassy

Campaigners call for US Government to end aid to Israel 

By Americans AGAINST Apartheid

This past week throughout the world, Palestine solidarity campaigners called for America to end its aid to Israel. In London, a protest took place outside the US Embassy in answer to an appeal by the Popular Committee of Bil’in:

Dear Friends

The popular committees-Palestine asks all those who support peace and justice in Palestine to organise demonstrations in September outside the US embassies of their countries calling for the end of US aid to Israel. Demonstrations are already planned in front of the White House on September 15th and in front of the United Nations building in New York on September 15th, but to be successful we need to globalize the resistance.

American tax dollars go toward supporting an illegal and humiliating occupation of Palestinian land; the construction of illegal settlements; the annexation of Palestinian farmland; the purchase of weapons and arms used in night raids and military strikes. Right now American money finds its way to this part of the world where children and innocent civilians are killed, injured, and made to suffer. It also empowers the Israeli government to further ignore international law and perpetuate its intransigence.

These demonstrations in September will tell the US government to stop supporting this occupation and stand up for justice and freedom in Palestine, lets spread them far and wide across the planet.

Salaam

Iyad Burnat
Head of Bil’in popular committee

America is seen around the world as facilitating the Israeli occupation and complicit in the suppression of Palestinian human rights. This is thanks to the US$30 billion in aid America promised to Israel from 2009 to 2018. This aid fuels the occupation of Palestinian land and buys weapons that Israel uses against Palestinian civilians.

On Saturday, September 17th, Palestine Solidarity campaigners staged a protest in front of the massive US Embassy building near Grosvenor Square carrying banners and placards that read ‘Stop funding US aid to Israel’, ‘Stop stealing Palestinian land’ and ‘Stop funding the Israeli war machine.’ One protester displayed a large sign of Uncle Sam that read ‘I’m Israel’s bitch and so are you.’

The protest attracted attention and support from many passersby, several who joined with campaigners to call for an end of US aid to Israel.   

Opponents claim Israel – which is the only recipient of American aid that doesn’t have to account for how it is spent – has a right to self-defence. However with the right of self-defence comes responsibility which Israel has squandered in its abysmal human rights record and its flouting of international laws.

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For further information about US military aid to Israel, please visit Be on our side.

Musicians suspended over Israel Proms row

LPO: Out of tune.

New Statesman 15 September 2011

By Ben White

The London Philharmonic Orchestra management has some serious questions to answer. 

The London Philharmonic Orchestra has suspended four of its musicians for up to nine months for putting their names to a letter, published in the Independent, that called for the BBC to cancel a concert by the Israel Philharmonic.

For expressing support for the Palestinian boycott call, these individuals have received what has been called “the most severe penalty inflicted on London orchestral musicians in memory”.

Plenty of people have been disturbed by the LPO management’s response, including those who disagree with the views expressed by the four musicians. Classical music journalist Gavin Dixon, for example, has written that “the efforts by the LPO management to distance themselves from the views of these players has clearly been an over-reaction”.

Norman Geras, someone who thinks that boycotting Israel is “contemptible”, has written of his concern about “whether a nine-month suspension from one’s job for writing a letter to a newspaper isn’t rather excessive”. Geras also raises the legitimate questions about LPO internal disciplinary policy, and asks:

“Why should members of an orchestra not be free to signal their professional affiliation when publicly expressing their views? Academics do it as a matter of course, and no one assumes that the University of Edinburgh, or Oxford, or Birmingham, or wherever, is implicated in the views that their members have publicly espoused.”

There are many unanswered questions here.

First: the letter appeared in the Independent on 30 August. On 2 September, in what seems like the first official public response to enquiries, LPO chief executive Timothy Walker told the Jerusalem Post:

“The views expressed by four members of the LPO concerning the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Proms are the views of the individuals and not the company.”

A reasonable (and rather obvious) clarification statement – but no indication that the musicians were liable to face internal disciplinary action, let alone the severity of a 9-month suspension. What happened between 2 September and the decision to mete out the punishment?

Second: On 8 September, the Jewish Chronicle reported that an LPO violinist had been suspended for launching “an anti-Israel tirade at a question and answer session”. The article said that “LPO chief executive Timothy Walker confirmed she had been suspended indefinitely” and that “the LPO board will decide on what disciplinary action to take”. But the recent confirmation of four suspensions by LPO is reported as because of signing the letter — not for “an anti-Israel tirade”. Which is it?

Third: On announcing the suspension, the official LPO management statement said “the board’s decision in this matter will send a strong and clear message”. This indicates that the severity of the punishment is motivated by deterrence, rather than being an appropriate response guided by established practice or policy.

Finally, it was Gavin Dixon who pointedly noted that the LPO is “obviously trying to appease somebody. It would be indiscreet to speculate as to who and why”.

www.newstatesman.com – Musicians suspended over Israel Proms row

What you can do:

  • Write a politely-worded post on the LPO Facebook page expressing your opposition to the LPO’s decision to suspend four musicians for signing a letter supporting justice, human rights and the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

A taste of apartheid

Protesters expose ‘Taste of Israel’ sham

The curtain rings down on Israeli propaganda exercise

12 September 2011

Report by Elly

The Israel Government Tourist Office invited Londoners to visit the InterContinental hotel’s Cookbook Cafe and ‘discover one of Israel’s finest Hidden Gems': its settler-colonial conquest of Palestine, overseasoned with cultural appropriation. At the Taste of Israel week, diners could sample Arab cuisine and goods produced on stolen Palestinian land. Most of the tables remained empty and the £20 a head buffet untouched for the first day of this poorly attended event; blinds were hastily lowered by staff to obscure placards held up against the Cafe windows by boycott activists, reading “Food and wine of apartheid Israel” and “The bitter taste of Israeli occupation”.

In a letter to the General Manager of the InterContinental, London, BDS activists explained in advance that the ‘assortment of fine Israeli wines’ on offer was likely to include wines produced in illegal Jewish settlements, which are in grave violation of International Humanitarian Law. The recent report by the Israeli research project, Who Profits, demonstrates that all of the major Israeli wineries use grapes from occupied territory in their wines. They also warned the hotel that the Israel Government Tourism Office (IGTO) had already fallen foul of advertising standards in the UK twice in the last two years; in both cases the IGTO was found to have breached CAP Code clause 7.1: ‘Truthfulness’.

At the main entrance to the hotel, the four protesters handed out leaflets on the Palestinian call to boycott Israel until it complies with international law, and several guests gave them the ‘thumbs up’. A Syrian family stopped to chat about the boycott action and shared their disgust at the normalisation aspect of the Israeli cultural event: “They want it to look as if they are giving out food, instead of dropping bombs“, no less offended by Israel’s appropriation of Arab/Middle Eastern cuisine, such as hummous, falafel, tabbouleh and pita bread. They added that in their view, the Syrian regime was the best friend of Israel: “Not one bullet in 40 years and instead of fighting for the return of the Golan Heights, they are now shooting their own people.”

The fact that diners will have to eat Israeli and illegal settlement produce out of sight of peaceful protesters – behind lowered blinds and flanked by a heavy security presence – only underlines how shameful and undesirable this celebration of Israeli apartheid and military occupation is at this historical juncture.

What you can do:

Contact the Cookbook Cafe to express your disgust of their complicity in this Zionist propaganda exercise.