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October 23, 2014 7:45 pm

Anti-Israel Mob Harasses Israeli Food Vendors at Paris Trade Fair (VIDEO)

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A Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) protest against Israel in Melbourne, Australia, on June 5, 2010. Credit: Mohamed Ouda via Wikimedia Commons.

Several dozen anti-Israel activists harassed and intimidated Israeli food industry vendors taking part in this week’s SIAL food trade expo in Paris, Israel’s Ch. 2 News reported Thursday.

At one point, at least 10 protesters, masquerading as businessmen, broke into the “Priniv” exhibition, waving Palestinian flags, and shouting insults at the presenters at the Israeli Export Institute pavilion.

Protesters held signs and chanted, “No trade with apartheid,” “Boycott Israeli apartheid,” and “Gaza, Gaza, We won’t forget!”

“It’s sad to see such hatred towards Israelis,” Priniv CEO Ido Yaniv said in comment.

Israeli security guards at the pavilion immediately alerted their French counterparts, and the demonstration was forcefully dispersed, after protesters refused to disperse peacefully.

“You always see the demonstrations on television, but suddenly you are in the very center of the fire,” Yaniv said of the incident.

“It’s frightening and sad at the same time to see how hatred is also reflected on issues not related to politics. It’s sad to see young people have no real knowledge, political and historical, and exhibit anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel and Israelis,” Yaniv said.

“While the exhibitors were upset at the protest, they showed restraint and continued to market their wares to the international audience, in spite of our enemies,” Yaniv said.

The annual high-profile event, held in the suburb of Villepinte, hosts more than 6,300 exhibitors and 150,000 high-profile visitors, according to organizers.

Although the demonstration did not last long, it caused concern among Israeli exhibitors, especially since there were violent clashes between protesters and security guards who tried to disperse the demonstration.

“Beyond the direct attempt to scare us as Israeli marketers abroad, the protesters also directly tried to scare the traders and local business owners to not buy and do business with the Israeli distributors,” Yaniv said.

Rampant anti-Semitism in Europe, especially after Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, caused Priniv, as well as other companies, significant economic damage.

In Priniv’s case, the kibbutz firm had almost closed negotiations on a deal with a major distributor in Sweden.

But just before the final signing, which would have netted the firm a million shekels annually, “the distributor requested that the raw material be sent to Holland, and fill the bottles there, so there would be no direct connection to Israel,” Yaniv explained.

“We, as a patriotic company, of course did not agree, and so the transaction blew up.”

In addition, and in parallel, two major distributors in Belgium and France sought to minimize on the drink labels that the product is made “‹”‹in a factory in Israel.

But, despite the setback for Priniv, the international boycott movement, while noisy and annoying at a popular level and in the media, is not particularly effective in deterring Israeli commerce or artistic and cultural activities abroad.

Watch a video of the altercation at the SIAL Trade Fair:

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