The sun shone on our faces and red, black, green and white flags fluttered in our hands as we embarked on the fourth fortnightly ‘Boycott Ahava’ demonstration in Covent Garden on Saturday.
London’s finest had already kindly prepared a holding pen for us, which was swiftly adorned with informative posters, highlighting Ahava’s profiteering from the military occupation of Palestine. The multinational company sells cosmetics from the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem, and is the target of a global boycott campaign. The demonstration was arranged after a request from the Bilin popular committee in Palestine for activists around the world to hold regular actions in support of Palestine.
Making our presence noisily felt, the demonstration quickly attracted an intrigued crowd of shoppers and tourists, the majority of whom reacted positively and expressed their support.
Clearly having felt lonely in previous weeks, the counter-demonstration -led by the indomitable Zionist Federation co-chair Jonathan Hoffman – had brought a car load of friends from Wales along, swelling their turnout to very nearly a dozen.
After reading glossy Zionist Federation misinformation leaflets claiming the protesters were anti-Semites boycotting Jewish businesses, one or two members of the public challenged us on our stand against Ahava. It was encouraging that after a few minutes of calm, patient explanation most questioners saw through the propaganda and went on to express support for the demonstration.
While purporting to be an anti-boycott protest, with their boosted numbers it was harder for the Zionists to contain their inherent anti-Palestinian racism. “Palestine has produced nothing for humanity but suicide bombers,” one particularly red-faced woman shrieked.
If only people had realised this before closing the city of London the day before for a procession in honour of a Palestinian Saint: yes readers, St. George was a Palestinian.
The true measure of the protesters’ success was the fact that only two shoppers entered Ahava during the two hour demo — both of whom were members of the counter-demonstration, doing so to make a point. The public voted with their feet and steered clear of stolen goods from stolen Palestinian land.
The renewed efforts of the pro-Israel lobby in Covent Garden on Saturday show that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign is working. Now is the time to renew our efforts. The next demonstration will be held on Saturday 8th May 2010.
It is essential that we increase our momentum and build our numbers to drive home the fact that profiting from occupation is illegal, and that companies which are complicit with the occupation must not be allowed to operate with impunity.