British Court Rules Against Boycotters

YERUSHALAYIM -

The British Supreme Court upheld convictions against four anti-Israel protesters for criminal trespassing, a ruling welcomed by the Zionist Federation of Great Britain on Monday, Haaretz reported.

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 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 Court ruling is important because it “dismisses all the rationales that the BDS [boycott, divestment, sanctions] movement has 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 Judean desert. They were convicted of criminal trespassing and each was ordered to pay £250 (about $410).

The ruling came too late for the business, though. The cosmetics outlet was forced to close its doors in Covent Garden in September 2011 after enduring four years of protests and counter-protests at the location.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu summoned senior ministers on Sunday to discuss how to cope with the mounting boycott threat, The Jerusalem Post reported.

A media blackout was imposed, and so no details were made available officially. Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett would not even confirm that the meeting took place.

Various options were said to have been raised at the meeting: Encouraging anti-boycott legislation in friendly capitals around the world, such as Washington, Ottawa and Canberra.

The UK court decision was discussed. “We are studying the ruling, but it is important,” an Israeli official said Sunday. “It fits into our arguments regarding boycotts and divestment.”