Anti-Semitism reached a new low in London earlier this month as the Hamas-affiliated International Solidarity Movement (ISM) successfully forced Israeli-owned AHAVA to close its London shop. For almost two years, the Israeli-based cosmetics company, a manufacturer of Dead Sea mineral skin-care products sold worldwide, has been targeted by street protests and in-store disruptive actions by the ISM and related groups committed to destroying the state of Israel.
The ISM actions against AHAVA were part of the ISM's broader anti-Israel activities. These have included demands for international sanctions against Israel, sponsorship of worldwide Israeli divestment campaigns, and orchestrated boycotts of Israeli products, academics and events. The ISM has advanced the false narrative of Israel as a Nazi-like apartheid state and mendaciously equated the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust with the plight of the Arab-Palestinians today. Like its partners-in-crime Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the ISM does not support the peace process and endeavors to eliminate Israel. Thus, the Israeli cosmetics company has been yet another political target as part of the ISM strategy to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish State using false accusations of "illegal" activities.
Last fall on two occasions, ISM members carried a concrete block into AHAVA's London shop, blocked the store entrance, and disrupted business for nearly seven hours. ISM operatives refused to leave and were later charged with trespassing and disobeying a police officer. In court, ISM defense attorneys denied that AHAVA's business had been damaged or any employees and customers intimidated. Participating ISM members justified their criminal actions by claiming that AHAVA operates in "illegal Israeli settlements" and thereby engages in "illegal business activities." This tactic of disruptive actions against private individuals and businesses in retaliation for Israel's foreign and domestic policies has been widely used to suppress Israeli research and punish Israeli academics. Despite its organizational name, the ISM focuses only on what it calls "Israeli apartheid in Palestine," solely targeting Israeli Jews for fictitious atrocities and ignoring widespread global human rights abuses, including summary executions in Communist China, government-sanctioned enslavement in North Korea and Saudi Arabia, and the chemical genocide of the Kurds committed by the Turkish government.
Unfortunately, the treachery of last fall's Kristallnacht-reminiscent events didn't end in justice. The presiding judge, George Bathurst Norman, injected his political bias into the court proceedings with another lie by referring to Gaza as a "giant prison camp." This statement, besides being grounds for disbarment, was followed by even more outrageous comments as Norman disparaged U.S. support of Israel, spuriously calling it evidence of complicity with Israel's actions. The judge also said Gazans suffered "Hell on Earth," as he referred to Operation Cast Lead, Israel's defensive war in 2005 after over 10,000 rockets from Gaza sent Israeli civilians running for their lives to bomb shelters. Not surprisingly, given the judge's attitudes, all eight defendants who terrorized AHAVA London were acquitted. An appeal is unlikely under English law.
The inherent anti-Semitism in singling out an Israeli shop for alleged human rights violations was lost on neighboring shopkeepers who appealed to the local landlord not to renew AHAVA's lease. Instead of condemning the protestors' actions as a public nuisance and an obstruction to normal business activities, they complained about AHAVA "bringing the street down." They failed to confront the protestors and allowed a lawful business to be chased out of the area by people opposed to Israel's very existence.
Of course, all sense of reality about Israel is typically barred whenever the narrative against the Jewish state springs up. Israel is not a soi-disant "apartheid" entity as it is erroneously portrayed, but a democracy with a plurality of ethnic groups and religions living side-by-side and enjoying equal rights. Contrast this to Gaza, in which homosexuals and non-Muslims are persecuted and unable to openly declare their sexual orientation or freely practice their religions. Arab-Palestinian homosexuals escape the threat of death in Gaza by making their way to sanctuary in Tel Aviv. Whereas churches have been destroyed, Christians have been murdered, and acid-throwing has forced the veiling of Christian women in Gaza, Christian holy sites, as well as the holy sites of all religions, are protected in Israel, as are all religious practices. Women and non-Jews enjoy the same rights of Jewish Israelis and may even serve in the Knesset. Unlike Gaza, no gender segregation exists, nor any requirement to follow the Islamic shariah. Fully 20% of Israel's population is Israeli Arabs who enjoy the same rights as Israeli Jews.
As the country with the most freedom and democracy in the Middle East, Israel is also the most maligned country in the world. There is not and never has been a system of apartheid in the Jewish state. The true apartheid by religion, sex, and sexual orientation exists in the Arab-Palestinian territories and throughout the Muslim world. Sadly, it is opposition to Israel because it is a Jewish state -- the only one in the world -- that underlies the phenomenon of continued opposition and hatred. By allowing anti-Israeli terrorist-affiliated groups to dictate which shops will be permitted on a London street, appeasement has reached a new low and London falls further down the slippery slope toward Islamization.
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