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Spirit of Bil’in travels to London

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Amira Hass of Haaretz reports today that the West Bank villages of Bil’in and Ni’lin have been declared "closed military areas" by Israel in an attempt to further crush the nonviolent resistance carried out by Palestinians and supporters against the illegal separation wall. Mondo has more on this.

No matter how the Israeli army tries to suppress the weekly protests in the West Bank, the Bil’in protesters’ spirit has traveled globally, most recently in London.

The International Solidarity Movement-London reports on a March 13 action outside a branch of Israeli cosmetics company Ahava in central London. The protests, which are to be held every other Saturday, are a direct response to a call from the popular committee of Bil’in. Jody McIntyre, who has reported from Bil’in, observed in a Twitter posting that the protests outside Ahava are "the start of a movement."

Ahava exploits Palestinian natural resources and its goods are produced in an illegal settlement in the West Bank, making it a target of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. CODEPINK’s "Stolen Beauty" campaign also targets Ahava.

Here’s more from ISM-London, which said that they managed to shut down the London Ahava shop early:

In response to a call for action from the popular committee of Bi’lin village in Palestine, on Saturday the 13th of March, over 30 people from different Palestine solidarity groups (including ISM London) turned up for the first fortnightly demonstration outside Ahava in Covent Garden, central London. Ahava an Israeli cosmetics company based in illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

Despite the presence of a very small Zionist counter demonstration, and some initial attempts by police to move the demonstration across the road away from the shop’s entrance, a noisy presence was maintained for several hours drawing the attention of bemused passers-by and tourists.

The demonstration was very well received by members of the public who took leaflets, expressed solidarity and honked car horns. The crowning moment, though, was when the shop admitted defeat and closed early.

This victory bodes well for the growing grassroots Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, which has helped promote greater links and cooperation between the various Palestine solidarity groups in London.

On its website Ahava claims that ‘True to our philosophy of protecting the innate beauty and resources of the region, we have cultivated a passionate and caring relationship with the Dead Sea’.

It is less forthcoming about the fact that it sells beauty products from illegal settlements in the West Bank. This is why it is the target of a massive boycott campaign by different solidarity groups.

The next demonstration will take place on Saturday the 27th of March, and every fortnight thereafter.

Alex Kane
About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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