Aug 15, 2010

Tory leader calls himself 'Zionist'; U.K. Jews campaign against boycott

U.K. Conservative party leader David Cameron: Support of Israel is in DNA of party members; U.K. Jews object to call to boycott Israel's academe.

The leader of Britain's Conservative party, David Cameron, called himself a "Zionist" Tuesday as he slammed a British initiative for an academic boycott against Israel.

Cameron, responding to questions at the annual luncheon of Conservative Friends of Israel, said the academic boycott was completely uncalled for, and that attacks against Israel often slid into anti-Semitism.

"If by Zionist you mean that the Jews have the right to a homeland in Israel and the right to a country then I am a Zionist," the Tory leader said, adding that support for Israel is "in the DNA" of members of his party.

He also justified construction of the separation fence, but expressed concern that it might torpedo a two-state solution.

British Jews launch campaign against academic boycott

A coalition of British Jewish organizations will launch a campaign Thursday to combat the University and College Union's initiative for an academic boycott of Israel.

Advertisements signed by hundreds of anti-boycott academics were scheduled to appear in Wednesday's newspapers, followed Thursday by a press conference by Jewish politicians, university lecturers and community leaders.

Jeremy Newmark, director of the Jewish Leadership Council, told Haaretz that the campaign's goal was to get British University and College Union director Sally Hunt to make good on her pledge to bring the boycott proposal to a referendum of the union's rank and file.

Zionists and racist EDL unite to counter Ahava Protest

In celebration of the recent court victory in which four campaigners were acquitted for blockading the Covent Garden Ahava shop in 2009, approximately 60 protestors gathered outside its doors in Monmouth Street, central London, to celebrate and continue promoting boycott, divestment and sanctions against the Israeli occupation. While demonstrators were met by the usual Zionist counter-demonstrators, on this occasion they arrived flanked by the openly racist English Defence League.

Ahava, the cosmetics retailer and spa outlet, manufactures its products on the illegal Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem. It has openly flouted tax requirements by exploiting the EU-Israel trade agreement and violates UK DEFRA guidelines in respect of proper labelling. The campaign against Ahava supports the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions as a global nonviolent means to challenge the Israeli Occupation of Palestine and the ongoing siege upon Gaza.

At the outset the small group of around ten EDL members remained close to the Zionist contingent of Ahava supporters, handing out leaflets. Over the course of the demonstration they began to take an increasingly prominent role, culminating with the unravelling of a flag of St. George and chanting “E-E-EDL.” This was accompanied by racist remarks towards a number of Ahava protestors who were of Asian/Middle Eastern descent. What was more surprising, and unsettling, was the apparent unwillingness of the Zionist contingent to distance themselves from the EDL.