Daily Israel Report

British Supreme Court Rules Against Anti-Israel Boycotters

UK Supreme Court rejects claims "settlement produce" transgresses international law.
By Ari Soffer
First Publish: 2/8/2014, 7:38 PM

Anti-Israel boycott campaigners
Anti-Israel boycott campaigners
Reuters

Britain's Supreme Court reject a third and final appeal by four anti-Israel activists, who were convicted for criminal trespass after chaining themselves to the shop of Israeli cosmetics company Ahava.

The incident - in which the activists chained themselves to a concrete block outside the shop in central London's Covent Garden - took place in 2011, after four years of demonstrations by radical anti-Israel groups calling for shoppers to boycott Ahava. Anti-Zionist groups claimed the company was committing "war crimes" due to the presence of a factory in Mitzpe Shalom by the Dead Sea in Judea, east of Hevron.

The demonstrators also said Ahava's products were "misleadingly labeled" as being Made in Israel, due to the factory's presence beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines (or "Green Line"). The company's London store closed in September 2011.

The protesters were arrested and convicted of criminal trespass by a District Court judge, who and ordered each of them to pay £250 in costs in 2011. After already appealing twice last week's failed attempted was the final chance for the convicted to gain an acquittal.

But the Supreme Court rejected the appeal, saying that the factory did not contravene the Fourth Geneva Convention simply by being located in a "settlement", stating that in its view that would only be the case if it actively encouraged people to move there. According to some international legal experts such factories - and the presence of Jewish communities in general - are not illegal at all, since the Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply to Judea and Samaria.

The judgement further stated that any link to a breach of the Convention "was not an integral part of the activity carried on at the shop, which was retail selling."

The court further ruled that even if the goods were "misleadingly labeled", in this case it would not be an offence, since "the number of people whose purchase might be influenced by such a distinction was sufficiently small as to be immaterial" - a stinging blow to the anti-Israel Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has for years failed to garner mainstream support for its calls to boycott the Jewish state.

Britain's Zionist Federation hailed the ruling as a "victory over bigotry".

"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 ZF Chairman Paul Charney. "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 activists 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 movement have used to mask what is hatred, pure and simple."

The ruling is the latest setback for the boycott movement, following Hollywood A-Lister Scarlett Johansson giving Oxfam the boot, after the NGO pressured her to boycott Israeli drinks company SodaStream due to the location of one of its factories in the Judea-Samaria region.

Footage of Supreme Court Ahava Ruling: