By Natasha Lewis and Bruce Levy
2011 was a year that once again, activists, campaigners and people of conscience from all backgrounds and cultures came together to support Palestine and increase awareness of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign called for by Palestinian civil society in 2005.
On a more modest note, public support is overwhelmingly positive and we continue to receive many messages from throughout the world on all our platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. Keep ‘em coming, as all your comments, suggestions and even criticisms are most welcome.
So here are selected highlights of our BDS campaigning, activities and news in the “Hub of Hubs” during 2011 – proving that ‘the resistance is continuous!’
London BDS kicked off the ‘Adidas – Don’t Run with Apartheid’ campaign by staging a protest outside the Adidas shop near Covent Garden and delivered a petition calling for Adidas to cancel its sponsorship of the Jerusalem Marathon.
BDS SUCCESS! Major UK retailer John Lewis confirmed that it no longer sold Ahava products. Its Managing Director, Andy Street, wrote: “As a socially responsible retailer, John Lewis…expect all our suppliers not only to obey the law, but also to respect the rights, interests and well-being of their employees, their communities and the environment.”
London BDS activists were both inside and outside the Professional Beauty trade show at the ExCeL centre explaining to visitors and exhibitors why Ahava is bad for your business.
As part of the Don’t Run with Apartheid campaign, activists staged a race inside the Adidas flagship store on Oxford Street on the day of the Jerusalem Marathon. In Rome, activists staged a similar event on the day of the Tel Aviv Marathon.
No Justice, No Peace! People of conscience kept up the pressure when Zionist war criminal Shimon Peres visited London.
During the BDS Week of Action, the Covent Garden TESCO supermarket was targeted as activists de-shelved illegal West Bank Settlement goods.
and Veolia’s reputation (and lobby) was trashed when campaigners delivered bags of rubbish to their corporate office.
BDS SUCCESS! The London School of Economics Palestine Society scored a victory against Eden Springs in their boycott campaign.
BDS SUCCESS! In late March, news broke that the UK’s only Ahava shop would close in September. Activists however vowed to continue their fortnightly picket for another six months until they saw an empty shop.
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BDS SUCCESS! After intensive lobbying, the South London Waste Partnership dumped Veolia’s bid for the one billion pound ‘Waste Treatment Infrastructure’ contract serving the South London boroughs of Kingston-upon-Thames, Sutton, Merton and Croydon.
BDS SUCCESS! The UK Quaker movement announced they will boycott all Israeli settlement goods.
BBC: Impartially Partial. London BDS was the first to break the news about how the BBC edited the lyrics “free Palestine” from a rap song broadcast on Radio 1Xtra. This report about BBC censorship went viral and was later picked up by the PSC and the national media.
The party’s over for Israel’s supporters when just three activists and a simple banner ended a Zionist social event in a Central London bar.
BDS SUCCESS! Campaigners protested outside singer Marc Almond’s concert at London’s Royal Festival Hall. A few days later Almond announced the cancellation of his performance in Tel Aviv.
For the first time ever, UK activists joined French colleagues in an action outside the Veolia AGM in Paris…
…and we also reported from Move Over AIPAC in Washington, DC.
Back home in the UK, Westminster got a taste of the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza as campaigners from the Free Gaza Movement sailed along the River Thames to Parliament to deliver the message: Freedom for Palestine!
London BDS spearheaded the highly successful Boycott Israeli Dates London Mosque Tour during the holy month of Ramadan, explaining to both people of faith and non-believers why they should boycott Israeli dates.
We exposed the Zionist academic huckster Benny Morris and staged a walk-out during his lecture at the London School of Economics.
We also exposed an Israeli property exhibition that was a complete sham.
During the course of four days, we welcomed back the ‘Flytilla’ heroes at Luton Airport who were detained and deported from Israel for simply stating that they wanted to visit Bethlehem.
Marilyn Monroe said “Don’t Engage with Israeli Blood Diamonds” at Hatton Garden, the centre of London’s jewellery trade.
BDS SUCCESS! Illegal settlement cosmetics company Ahava closed its only UK shop as a direct result of the campaign that began in 2009. It was a major BDS victory and inspired others, including an Australian group who are a year into their campaign against Dead Sea cosmetic company Seacret. (We admit to being jealous of all that sunshine in Adelaide!)
BDS SUCCESS! Action against the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s BBC Proms concert at the Royal Albert Hall that was successful in taking the Radio 3 broadcast of the Prom off the air, which also made it a major international media event. London BDS was the first to break the news on Twitter. The result? The IPO recently announced that they may never return to perform in the UK again. Hooray!
Campaigners demanded that America end its military aid to Israel with a protest outside the US Embassy.
Outside Downing Street, protesters told Zionist war criminal Tzipi Livni that she was visiting the wrong Hague during her meeting with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague in London.
Students at Kings College London began a campaign to end their University’s partnership with Ahava in an EU-funded research project. To date, over 1,200 people signed the e-petition. Why not join them?
With the Ahava shop now history, we lost no time mobilising outside of London’s Natural History Museum where Veolia is currently sponsoring the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition.
November saw Zionists going ‘up north’ to plan their attack on London. From their sagging ‘Mini Tent’ in London to their sagging ‘Big Tent’ in Manchester, we reported on the selective admission for a London Zionist conference after a Jewish human rights campaigner was refused admission. As we would later tweet; it’s a #hasbaraFAIL.
BDS SUCCESS! A complaint made by an activist was upheld by the Advertising Standards Agency against the Zionist Jewish Chronicle newspaper for misleading advertising involving an Israeli property company selling homes in an illegal West Bank settlement.
We visited an international travel exhibition at ExCeL and reported that Israel had been kicked out the Middle East and was now in Europe, sandwiched between Romania and the Czech Republic. We also distributed flyers exposing Ahava (one of the exhibitors), as well as outed the camera-shy Israeli security thugs at the Israel pavilion.
During the BDS Day of Action, activists were outside supermarkets in East, West and South London engaging with and encouraging shoppers to boycott Israeli and illegal settlement produce.
During the festive season BDS activists sung alternative carols and offered guests attending a cocktail party at Lev Leviev’s diamond shop on Old Bond Street ‘Israeli Promise’ cocktails (in empty glasses).
Alternative carols were also sung outside the Natural History Museum and the Lacoste shop on Regent Street.
BDS SUCCESS! West London Waste Authority excluded Veolia from a £485 million contract serving the West London boroughs of Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Richmond-upon-Thames.
On the 28th December, a demonstration took place outside the Israeli Embassy in Kensington commemorating the third anniversary of Operation Cast Lead and people of conscience demanded the Zionist apartheid state end its inhuman siege of Gaza.
So what does the future hold? We offer no New Year resolutions or predictions….
But what there will be is a further intensification of the BDS campaign, as well as more and more artists refusing to perform in Israel, the Welcome to Palestine initiative to support, labels to check, along with other activity …
Special thanks to all those who are involved with London BDS, without whom none of this would be possible.
Thanks also to our many coalition partners; especially ISM London and Code Pink’s Stolen Beauty Campaign, whose enthusiasm, creativity and dedication continues to inspire. Appreciation also goes to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG) and the BNC.
And most importantly to the people of Palestine and the Palestinian Diaspora, we vow to continue until we see a…