London’s Natural History Museum is out in the cold

Putting a human face on one of the countless victims of Zionist oppression and apartheid. 17-year-old Yousef Ikhlayl was shot in the head by Israeli settlers near Hebron on 28 January 2011. Natural History Museum take note.

Report/photos by Bruce, London BDS

Saturday 28 January 2012

Despite the bitterly cold temperature, there was a respectable turnout outside London’s Natural History Museum (NHM) with about twenty human rights campaigners, including a few new faces, who engaged with visitors to publicise the NHM’s partnerships with French multinational Veolia and illegal Israeli settlement company Ahava.

Once again, overwhelming public opinion called for the NHM to dump Veolia, who are sponsoring the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition and also sever ties with Ahava, who are partners with the NHM in an EU-funded research project.

2012 has not started on a high note for the NHM. On 17 January, UK newspaper The Independent, published an article entitled Natural History Museum attacked over links to ‘illegal’ Israeli company after a letter was published, signed by 21 leading scientists and film directors, including Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, who condemned the NHM for its partnership with Ahava in a project funded by an EU science grant. This was followed throughout the week by additional negative coverage in publications including The Scientist, ScienceInsider and Nature, as well as by major news agency Reuters.

The NHM, despite having no qualms about accepting government funding and soliciting donations from members of the public, has refused to listen to public opinion and reconsider its decision about its choice of corporate partners. The museum, eager to stifle any debate of the accountability of publicly funded cultural institutions, has also unashamedly banished discussion of the subject from their Facebook page.

Even though flyers were eagerly snapped up by those waiting in the queue desiring additional information, many visitors also welcomed the opportunity to express their disgust with apartheid Israel’s flagrant violations of international law as well its brutal, heavy-handed and inhumane treatment of Palestinians.   

The campaign drew support from people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds ranging from several teenagers to an elderly Jewish man.  Well done”, “Good for you” and “Thanks for being here” were just a few of the many comments of people who stopped to talk.  

Protesters also remembered 17-year-old Yousef Ikhlayl, a regular participant in Beit Ommar’s non-violent demonstrations against Israeli settlements, who was murdered by Israeli settlers while working in his family’s fields near Hebron on 28 January 2011. One year later, there still have been no arrests in Yousef’s case, thanks to unnecessary delays by Israeli authorities who are not too keen on seeing justice be done.

The rotund Co Vice-Chair and pariah of the Zionist Federation, Jonathan Hoffman was also present outside the NHM to do his bit for the Palestinian cause by proving an excellent Zionist ambassador-at-large by thrusting flyers, shouting at and arguing with the many people he encountered who expressed disgust and outrage over the actions of the Apartheid Zionist State.

Even prior to associating himself and his organisation with the Islamophobic English Defence League, Hoffman has become more and more of an outcast, with many within the UK’s Zionist community taking great pains to distance themselves from him. Aside from one other person, no other Zionist joined Hoffman to defend Israeli racism and apartheid.  

Veolia’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year is currently on tour at venues throughout the UK, including the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, where campaigners gather every weekend to expose Veolia’s corporate whitewashing Campaigners in Oxford and Aberystwyth have also been staging regular demonstrations (see photos below).

Afterwards, it was a trip across town to the ‘Don’t Attack Iran’ rally outside the US Embassy on Grosvenor Square where a statue of a past President warned against getting involved in any future imperialist wars…

Outside the US Embassy, President Eisenhower warns against any more US imperialist military adventures.

The next protest outside London’s Natural History Museum will be on Saturday, February 11th. All welcome!

Here are some images of the day:

Campaigners outside London's Natural History Museum remember 17-year-old Yousef Ikhlayl who was murdered by an Israeli settler.

Being interviewed outside the Natural History Museum.

'Palestine Pete' was 'on hand' (pardon the pun) to entertain young & old alike.

A T-shirt appropriate outside the Natural History Museum AND at the US Embassy rally later that day.

"Palestine Pete" & friends pose for photographers.

Remembering Yousef Ikhlayl outside the US Embassy.

We are not alone: Protest against Veolia's Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition...

...by campaigners outside the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. Photos: Bristol PSC.

Protesters outside Science Oxford, where Veolia's Wildlife Photographer of the Year is also on tour. Photos: PSC.

Campaigners in Oxford exposing Veolia's corporate whitewashing.

Highly encouraging is the presence of other groups, including Oxford's Women in Black.

Last and certainly least, here's Zionist activist Jonathan Hoffman...

...and his association with the ultra-right, Islamophobic English Defence League that will forever stigmatize him and the UK Zionist Federation. Thanks Jonathan!

The INDEPENDENT: Natural History Museum attacked over links to ‘illegal’ Israeli company

London's Natural History Museum

UPDATED: 23 January

 EXTRA, EXTRA!

 Note: The article and letter below were published in the 17 January 2012 edition of The Independent, a major UK national daily newspaper. 

It’s beyond belief that the Natural History Museum is so deeply involved with both Ahava and Veolia - two companies that were proven beyond a doubt to be complicit in Israel’s violation of international law – and yet care so little about public opinion, despite receiving funding from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.  

We encourage all people of conscience to contact the Natural History Museum on one of their many platforms and urge them to immediately terminate their involvement with both Ahava and Veolia.

Please see the ‘WHAT YOU CAN DO’ section at the bottom of this post for contact information and links.  

ARTICLE: Natural History Museum attacked over links to ‘illegal’ Israeli company
The INDEPENDENT, Tuesday 17 January 2012
 
By Cahal MILMO
 

The Natural History Museum is today accused by a coalition of prominent academics and cultural figures of helping to break international law by leading a research project which involves an Israeli cosmetics company based in an “illegal” settlement in the occupied West Bank.

In a letter to The Independent (scroll down), leading scientists and the film directors Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, condemn the London museum – which is the fourth most visited in Britain – for its research collaboration with Ahava – Dead Sea Laboratories (DSL), which sells beauty products based on minerals extracted from the Dead Sea.

The museum, which has a substantial academic research team, is co-ordinating NANORETOX, a European Union-funded project looking at any risks to human health and the environment posed by so-called nanoparticles – microscopic engineered materials which scientists are developing for multiple uses from cancer treatment to double glazing.

Ahava-DSL, which is one of a dozen institutions and companies involved in the project including two University of London colleges, has its registered headquarters listed in Israel but most of its activities are carried out in Mitzpe Shalem, a Jewish settlement on the edge of the Dead Sea in the West Bank.

Settlements in the Occupied Territories have been declared illegal under international law by the United Nations and the International Court of Justice. But despite international condemnation, the Israeli government insists that a large number of the settlements, including more than 120 on the West Bank, are not illegal.

In their letter, the 21 signatories, who include the eminent biologist Sir Patrick Bateson, president of the Zoological Society of London, and leading intellectual Sir Jonathan Miller, claim that the Natural History Museum’s connection with Ahava-DSL means that it is “co-ordinating an activity that breaks international law”.

They said: “[Ahava-DSL] extracts, processes and exports Palestinian resources to generate profits that fund an illegal settlement. Israel’s settlement project has been held… to break international law. Organisations which aid and abet this process may well themselves be found to be in violation.

“We find it almost inconceivable that a national institution of the status of the Natural History Museum should have put itself in this position. We call on the museum to take immediate steps to terminate its involvement in [the project] and to establish safeguards that protect against any comparable entanglement.”

The NANORETOX project began in December 2008 and is due to conclude at the end of this year, although campaigners say the involvement of Ahava-DSL has only now come to their attention. The company, which has conducted extensive research on nanoparticles for its products, was appointed to the project to supply materials and carry out toxicity tests.

The Natural History Museum yesterday defended its role in the research, saying that Ahava-DSL was chosen from a listed of scientific partners approved by the European Commission and suggested that any decision to boycott the project could be a challenge to “academic freedom”.

In a statement, Professor Ian Owens, the museum’s director of science, said: “We work within the legal and policy boundaries established by politicians and policy makers, and would not participate in any academic or educational boycotts that could restrict academic freedom.”

Ahava-DSL, which has been the subject of a boycott campaign targeting its shops in Europe and America, did not respond to requests for a comment. The company has previously said that the Dead Sea mud and materials used in its products are excavated from Israeli land outside the occupied territories and that Mitzpe Shalem is not an illegal settlement.

LETTER: Museum must drop West Bank link
The INDEPENDENT, Tuesday 17 January 2012
 

It is extraordinary, but true, that one of our great national museums is co-ordinating an activity that breaks international law. That museum is the Natural History Museum, which is collaborating in research with an Israeli commercial firm located in an illegal settlement in the Palestinian West Bank.

The firm is Ahava/Dead Sea Laboratories, whose business is manufacturing cosmetics out of mud, which it excavates from the banks of the Dead Sea. Ahava/DSL is located at Mitzpe Shalem, a settlement 10km beyond the Green Line. The collaboration with the Museum is through an EU-funded project called Nanoretox, in which Kings College London, Imperial College and a number of foreign institutions are also involved. The museum is the coordinating partner for this project.

Ahava/DSL is based on occupied territory. It extracts, processes and exports Palestinian resources to generate profits that fund an illegal settlement. Israel’s settlement project has been held by the International Court of Justice to break international law. Organisations which aid and abet this process may well themselves be found to be in violation. We find it almost inconceivable that a national institution of the status of the Natural History Museum should have put itself in this position.

We call on the museum to take immediate steps to terminate its involvement in Nanoretox and to establish safeguards that protect against any comparable entanglement.
 
Professor Sir Patrick Bateson FRS, University of Cambridge
 
Professor Malcolm Levitt FRS, University of Southampton
 
Professor Tim Shallice FRS, SISSA, Trieste
 
Mike Leigh
 
Ken Loach
 
Jonathan Miller
 
Victoria Brittain
 
Baroness Tonge
 
Dr Gillian Yudkin
 
Professor Laurence Dreyfus FBA, University of Oxford
 
Professor Jacqueline Rose FBA, Queen Mary University of London
 
Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, London School of Economics
 
Professor John Armitage, University of Bristol
 
Professor Haim Bresheeth, University of East London
 
Professor Barry Fuller, University College London
 
Professor Colin Green, University College, London
 
Dr Ghada Karmi, University of Exeter
 
Professor Adah Kay, City University
 
Professor David Pegg, University of York
 
Professor Steven Rose, Open University
 
Professor Lynne Segal, Birkbeck College
 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  • Contact the Natural History Museum: NHM, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, Tel: 020 7942 5511, or send them an email via a reply form.
  • Leave an appropriate message on the Natural History Museum’s Facebook page.
  • Tweet the Natural History Museum: @NHM_London
  • Contact your MP to  let them know how you feel. The Natural History Museum receives funding from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
  • Join us outside the Natural History Museum on Saturday, January 28th between 12-2pm. All welcome!

A new year to BIN VEOLIA at London’s Natural History Museum

'Palestine Pete' says "BIN VEOLIA!" outside London's Natural History Museum

Report by Bruce/Photos courtesy of Inminds

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Outside the Natural History Museum (NHM), twenty-six human rights activists successfully engaged with museum visitors to unmask Veolia, sponsor of the NHM’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition in a blatant example of corporate whitewashing by this toxic company.

Present alongside London BDS and other campaigners were Palestine solidarity activists from London Metropolitan and Roehampton Universities, as well as activists from France and San Francisco. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Tower Hamlets Jenin Friendship Association were also represented.

A large banner was displayed that read: “VEOLIA MUST STOP SUPPORTING ISRAEL’S ILLEGAL SETTLEMENTS.” 

A visitor from Spain approached campaigners after reading the banner and said: “I know what Israel is doing to Palestinians and am glad that you are here.” A tourist from France said: “It’s important that people know about this.” A London resident out with his son gave the thumbs up and told a campaigner: “Well done mate.”

French multinational Veolia has been accused of complicity in Israel’s violation of international law and continues to be a legitimate global target for human rights activists.

Veolia was involved in the construction of and currently manages the controversial Jerusalem Light Rail project that links Israeli Settlements – which are internationally recognised as illegal - reinforcing the apartheid Zionist government’s hegemony over the region.


Veolia also manages the Tovlan landfill, built on stolen Palestinian land in the Occupied Jordan Valley, where rubbish from Israel and its illegal settlements are transported to by Veolia subsidiaries TMM Integrated Recycling Services and YRAV Sherutei Noy 1985. Under international law, Israel is prohibited from using occupied land to benefit its civilian population.

Another Veolia subsidiary, Connex, operates apartheid bus services connecting Israel to its illegal West Bank settlements along Road 443 which is often referred to as an ‘apartheid road.’ Not only are Palestinians prohibited from using these bus services, but portions of Road 443 are off-limits to them as well.

Activists have been successfully lobbying against Veolia in the UK and have taken credit for the company’s exclusion from numerous public service contracts worth billions.

The four Zios who turned up outside the NHM were typical of their ilk; willowy and bearded Zionist flag-waver Martin Sugarman, an Exams Officer employed by Westminster Kingsway College, was once escorted by police from Portcullis House (a Parliamentary Building in Westminster) after Sugarman raised his arm and shockingly shouted “Sieg Heil” during a 27 January 2010 lecture delivered by 85 year-old anti-Zionist Holocaust survivor Dr Hajo Meyer.

Dark-haired, shifty and spectacle-wearing South African ‘Sharon Klaff,’ another apartheid advocate, tried unsuccessfully to distribute Zionist propaganda to visitors queuing outside the NHM. ‘Klaff’ who often expresses admiration for ultra-right wing hate groups on blogs, once blatantly called a Jewish anti-Zionist campaigner in front of witnesses,  “A dirty little Jew Boy,” a comment that earned her a warning from police outside the former Ahava shop on Monmouth Street.

The quote of the day was when one of the few Zionists present accused a Jewish campaigner of being a ‘self-hating Jew,’ the campaigner replied: “I’m not a self-hating Jew, I just hate you.”

Advertising apartheid

Travelling on the Underground a few weeks ago, we noticed this billboard (below) advertising the NHM’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition that has earned our nomination for a Truth in Advertising Award.  Within the past few days, we’ve been receiving reports of billboards that have been supplemented with similar information, which is a promising sign.

Will the Natural History Museum ever get the message? In 2010, activists also 'enhanced' billboards like the one above.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  • Leave an appropriate message stating your objection to Veolia on the Natural History Museum’s Facebook page.
  • Tweet an appropriate message to the Natural History Museum: @NHM_London
  • Join us outside the Natural History Museum on Saturday, January 28th between 12-2pm – All welcome!

An Inminds report of this event can be found here.

See you on Saturday, January 28th. FREE PALESTINE!

“The resistance must be continuous”

London BDS 2011 year in review

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!’

 JANUARY

London BDS kicked off the Adidas – Don’t Run with Apartheidcampaign 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.”

FEBRUARY

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.

MARCH

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.

click to enlarge

APRIL

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.

MAY

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.

JUNE

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.

JULY

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.

AUGUST

Marilyn Monroe said “Don’t Engage with Israeli Blood Diamonds” at Hatton Garden, the centre of London’s jewellery trade.

SEPTEMBER

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.

OCTOBER

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

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.

DECEMBER

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.

THE FUTURE

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…

FREE PALESTINE!

Peace.