The Zionist Federation of Great Britain on Monday welcomed a ruling from the Supreme Court last week that upheld convictions against four anti-Israel protesters for criminal trespassing.
The four demonstrators had chained themselves to the store of Israeli cosmetics company Ahava in London's Covent Garden in 2011. Two appeals against the conviction had already been rejected and the Supreme Court last week turned down a third and final appeal.
“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, chairman of the Zionist Federation. "However, for years pro-Palestinian campaigners have tried to justify their thuggery against anything Israel-related by citing various excuses and pretexts."
Charney said the Supreme Court ruling against the anti-Ahava "disruptors" is 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 movement have used to mask what is hatred, pure and simple."
In 2011, the activists had chained themselves to a concrete block inside the store, claiming it was a protest against “war crimes” committed by Ahava, whose factory is in the West Bank. They were convicted of criminal trespassing and each was ordered to pay £250 (about $410).
The Supreme Court rejected the argument that an Israeli company operating in the West Bank is contravening the Geneva Convention unless it encourages people to actually move there.
The protesters also had argued that Ahava’s products are “misleadingly” labeled as having been made in Israel. The Supreme Court also rejected that claim, saying the selling of mislabeled goods is not an offense in itself, and that labeling goods as "manufactured in Israel" when they have been produced in the West Bank would probably not constitute an offense, as the number of people who would be affected by the distinction would be immaterial.
Ahava closed its Covent Garden store in September 2011 after four years of protests and counter-protests outside of it.