31 March 2011 | Anna Stevens
In a victory for the BDS movement, the UK flagship store of Ahava has been forced to relocate after years of protests and direct action. Ahava, an Israeli company which sells cosmetic products produced in the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem has been a target for protesters in the UK who have sought to drive it out of London and challenge the legality of the company’s practices. In the past two and a half years protesters have blockaded the shop a number of times, preventing the store from trading. Ahava have so far been unsuccessful in securing any convictions for these actions in court. Under UK law, the crime of aggravated trespass is committed if one disrupts or obstructs a lawful activity on someone else’s property. However activists have argued that Ahava’s business is not lawful as it operates out of an illegal settlement. Ahava has also been under scrutiny for labelling its products as ‘made in Israel’ misleading customers and violating domestic consumer law. They have also been accused of evading tax by mislabelling their products.
Every fortnight the UK flagship store in Covent Garden, London is the site of a protest which regularly draws in large numbers of BDS and Palestine supporters. According to The Jewish Chronicle online these protests have resulted in complaints being made against the company by the neighbouring businesses which have led to a decision not to renew their lease when it expires. The protests have also seemingly effected Ahava UK’s profits, with their accounts up until the end of 2009 showing a total loss of more than £250,000, despite receiving more than £300,000 from its Israeli parent company, with no repayment plan.