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February 10, 2014 11:53 am

UK Zionist Federation Applauds Supreme Court Decision to Uphold ‘Ahava Four’ Convictions

avatar by Joshua Levitt

London protesters supporting an anti-Israel BDS campaign. Photo: BICOM / khaled via Flikr.

London protesters supporting an anti-Israel BDS campaign. Photo: BICOM / khaled via Flikr.

The United Kingdom’s Zionist Federation on Monday applauded last week’s ruling by Britain’s Supreme Court to uphold convictions against four anti-Israel demonstrators from the BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – movement who had been fined for criminal trespass after they chained themselves to the shop of Israeli cosmetics company Ahava, in London’s Covent Garden. The store was forced to close in 2011 because four years of constant protests frightened away customers.

“It is standard policy in this country that any threat to persons or property that is motivated by bigotry should be classified as a hate crime,” said Paul Charney, Zionist Federation Chairman. “However, for years pro-Palestinian campaigners have tried to justify their thuggery against anything Israel-related by citing various excuses and pretexts.”

“The Supreme Court ruling against the anti-Ahava disruptors is therefore important not just because it upholds the principle that intimidatory and hostile behavior against shoppers and staff is unacceptable in any context, but because it specifically dismisses all the rationales that the BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] movement have used to mask what is hatred, pure and simple,” Charney said.

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Four years after anti-Israel activists began protesting outside the shop, the hostility reached a climax when the four activists chained themselves to a concrete block inside the Covent Garden store, as a protest against Ahava, BICOM, the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, said. The activists said they objected to Ahava’s factory in Mitzpe Shalem, beyond the Green Line, about a kilometer from the Dead Sea, and claimed that Ahava’s products are “misleadingly” labelled as having been made in Israel.

In 2011, a district judge convicted the protesters of criminal trespass and ordered each of them to pay £250 in costs. Two appeals against the conviction had already been rejected and last week the Supreme Court similarly turned down a third and final appeal, BICOM said.

The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal, stating that Ahava’s actions could not amount to “aiding and abetting the transfer of Israeli citizens to the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories], but even if it did, this could not amount to an offense by Ahava’s retailing arm.” The court upheld the lower court’s ruling that “a consumer willing to buy Israeli products would be very unlikely not to buy Israeli products because they were produced in the OPT.”

The UK ruling last week coincided with another setback for anti-Israel boycotters, with the decision from the Dutch pension fund ABP to maintain its Israeli investments, according to the Jerusalem Post. ABP explained online to its clients that the Israeli banks it has business dealings with “do not act contrary to international law and regulations” and that there are no court rulings indicating a need to end investments in them.

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