Saturday, 2 April 2011

Who is with me? *UPDATED*

Welcome BCF readers,

*UPDATED see below*

One sunny afternoon a group of locals decided it was time to tell the world that their town was no place for businesses owned by Jews. The group met outside a local Jewish-owned shop. They were determined to shut it down, they brought with them signs to remind people that Jews were baby killers, that they were murderers and thieves who could not be trusted, that they stole from their neighbours and ruined their livelihoods. Standing outside the store, the group spent hours shouting at people as they entered the shop, chanting and intimidating the workers inside. The shop remained open, but the owners decided it was time to hire some extra security. The locals decided they would not stop until the store was run out of town.

Week after week the group met outside the shop continuing their tirades and making every possible effort to discourage people from going in the store. The shop began losing business, the employees began to lose morale – they hoped their gentile neighbours would support them. After all, they had been good neighbours and only wanted to service their customer so they could support their family. As it turns out, their neighbours were not so interested in supporting them, they were losing business too and they wanted the weekly bullying to stop. Sure, it’s too bad that your shop is being targeted, but it is hurting our bottom line. Those Jews are causing trouble wherever they go, they should only sell their goods through catalogues, if at all. They talked amongst themselves and came up with a solution: it was time for the Jews to go. The entire street would be better off without them. Jews bring trouble wherever they go. So the neighbouring businesses complained to the landlord – can’t you do something about these pesky Jews and their little shop? It is hurting our business and we do not want them here! And the landowner agreed. It was time for the Jews to go. He would not renew their lease. And that was the end of the Jewish owned shop. And all the shop owners and all the townspeople rejoiced, they had finally gotten rid of the Jews.

This was not a Jewish owned shop in Warsaw in 1935, this is an Israeli owned store in London in 2011. As regular readers now, SMW has been following the BDS movement’s efforts to shut down London’s Ahava store since the regular protests began after Operation Cast Lead. These bi-weekly events were initially small, but they grew in numbers and ferocity – you can read coverage of them here. After over a year of regular protesting, the Ahava store in Covent Garden has been forced to close its doors. The landowners refuse to renew their lease. And their neighbours are happy to see them go:
Colin George, manager of clothes shop The Loft, next door to Ahava, said:
"I'm pleased Ahava is leaving. It's brought the street down. I've complained to the landlords, as has everyone here. Everyone would like them to leave. I wish they had left two years ago.
"Protesters are just going to follow them around, wherever they go. Maybe they should be an online business instead."

During the 1930s, countries across Eastern Europe became increasingly hostile towards their Jewish populations. Aside from anti-Semitic rhetoric coming from the pulpit and the press, generally the first active steps taken against the Jewish community were numerus clausus laws (law regulating the number of Jewish students allowed in schools) and boycotts of Jewish owned businesses. These movements, combined with a turbulent economy led to the pauperization of many Jewish communities. However restrictions on education and economic isolation were not enough to satisfy the anti-Semitic fever sweeping the region, and so they were followed by the removal of Jews from public service, medical and legal professions, some beatings, some killings, a pogrom here, a pogrom there, the complete and utter delegitimizing of the Jew’s right to exist, and six million Jews starved, shot, gassed, burned, beaten, and suffocated to death. Their neighbours were not there to help them, in many cases their neighbours were more than willing to round Jews up and lock them in a burning barn or hand them over to the local police; the Jews were bringing the whole neighbourhood down and something had to be done.

After the Shoah public anti-Semitism was not so stylish, but it still existed, it was just undercover. Europe did not and for the most part still does not want to talk about the Shoah. Sure some monuments have gone up here and there, a nice token to remember those dead Jews, and a rather sanitized Holocaust curriculum is taught in some countries, but for the most part it is a blip on Europe’s collective memory. It is there, it happened everyone knows that (with some notable exceptions), but the details are fuzzy. Anti-Israel films are churned out by art houses on a regular basis; however it took a full 68 years before a movie about OpĂ©ration Vent Printanier (perhaps one of the most taboo events in France’s recent history) was made. This is not an accident.

In the 21st century it is not acceptable to be identified as an anti-Semite, but it is du rigeur to be anti-Israel, or as the kids call it a ‘social justice advocate.’ And so within the BDS movement there is a convergence of various groups; the Hamas loving terror supporters, the democracy hating socialist-communists, the women’s libbers who turn a blind eye to how women are treated in Israel’s neighbouring countries, the student activists who believe whatever their professors tell them as long as it is anti-Israel and anti-American, the gay rights groups who don’t care that Hamas’ sugar daddy hangs gays from cranes, the social justice activists who are so busy condemning Israel they forgot to protest women being stoned to death in Afghanistan, and a few randoms. But they all have something in common: they hate Israel and they want Israel as it is to cease to exist. They want Israeli businesses to suffer. If you suggest there is a touch of anti-Semitism lingering in the BDS air, or compare BDS to the boycotting of Jews before the Shoah they will accuse you of using the Holocaust to shield Israel from criticism. The thing is I don’t think these groups want all Israeli businesses to suffer, just the ones that are owned by the Jews. Delegitimizing Israel helps a number of groups work towards their goals, and it gives Europe a chance to ease its post-Shoah guilt, ‘hey all these years those Jews have been trying to make us feel sooooo bad about the Holocaust, but they got their own country and look what happened – they are the new Nazis….maybe it’s a good thing we got them out of Europe.’ And the Arab world wants them out of Israel.

The closing of London’s Ahava store is a victory for the BDS movement, one that will embolden them. They did not need a big budget, large crowds, or massive support – all they needed was a few dozen people to show up outside the store for a couple hours every Saturday and stir up trouble. The cowardly behaviour of Ahava’s neighbouring businesses and landlords only strengthened their stance. What is to stop them now from targeting every Israeli owned business in London, one at a time, until they are all shut down? What is to stop them from going into Waitrose every week and smashing up their Israeli produce until they stop stocking it?

Most people who read this will shake their heads and sigh, ‘that is so terrible’ and then go to the next link and forget about it. This is not acceptable. Doing nothing is not acceptable unless you want to keep being the loser. The only reason I ever went to Monmouth Street (where the Ahava shop is) was to buy Ahava products. It is in a very touristy area and it is just not my favourite place. I will never, ever again shop at ANY store on this street and I will certainly never again step in the door of The Loft where the staff are apparently ready to cheerlead for a 21st century Kristallnacht. More importantly – tomorrow I am going to be purchasing a boxload of Ahava products. I don’t care if fascist bullies stand outside every store I shop at, I will not turn a blind eye to this thuggery, I will not be intimidated and I will not back down.

Who is with me?

Editor's Note: Just to clarify any confusion - the Ahava store in Covent Garden remains open until their lease expires. So far now, you can still head down there and give them some business. I am stocking up on Ahava products today.

UPDATE: Apparently Colin George of The Loft has had a change of heart.....or he was misquoted by The JC.....or the flood of emails complaining about these ridiculous alleged statements caused him to rethink his position......or all of the above. Call me a cynic but I am not sure how one goes from I wish they had left two years ago, to I love Ahava. But hey....take from this what you will....