Are street protests the
LAST THURSDAY an Israeli owned shop closed its doors early for fear of protests from the BDS movement.
Just think about the significance of that. If we read that an Indian-owned business had not opened because of threats from Britain First, a far-right British nationalist group, we would be rightly outraged. So would the media. And yet the case of Sabon in Covent Garden seems to trouble no one.
Why not? Maybe because we are becoming used to the narrative that Israel is responsible for all that is wrong in the world. Maybe we can’t find a way to argue against this racist hatred. Maybe people are tired of fighting BDS. Or maybe, as was the case for Sussex Friends of Israel and many of our colleagues, we were stunned that an Israeli-owned business had given in to these bullies.
This comes on the heels of a rally outside Downing Street only last month where a large number of the Jewish community stood up to the Israel haters in a way not seen for many years. We were loud and proud and while our numbers will never match theirs, we certainly matched their passion. And then we heard Benjamin Netanyahu’s declaration that British Jews should fight back against the BDS. But how can we when Israeli businesses give in so easily?
Its a difficult line to straddle for the pro-Israel activist community. We try to respect the wishes of businesses and understand that protests and counterprotests aren’t good for trade.
But at a time when Israelis are being murdered in the streets, when the media seems only able to empathise with the perpetrators, it is down to us to use protest to ensure that legitimate, honest businesses are not forced to shut their doors by boycotters spreading lies and hatred.
And it is up to us to ensure passersby know that there are two sides to every issue. If we don’t do that, who will? Fiona Sharpe is co-chair of Sussex Friends of Israel