Right way to fight back?
AT UK Lawyers for Israel we have been able to see these situations from a number of perspectives, which puts us in a particularly good position to assess how best to tackle them.
Our members have advised retailers, defended activists, made representations to the police and landlords, and consulted with the Israeli embassy and other proIsrael organisations.
Counter-demonstrations by supporters of Israel can easily be counterproductive, by encouraging our enemies, adding to the obstruction, and drawing more attention to the anti-Israel demonstration.
On the other hand, the proIsrael demonstrations outside the Kedem store in Manchester last year were an excellent example of when and how to do it — when it is really necessary and effective to enable shoppers to have access to the targeted retailer; carefully controlled in co-ordination with the shop and consultation with the police, elected representatives, and neighbouring shops; and well organised so that our people are in the right position at the right time (which may mean getting up earlier than our opponents). Above all, we must stay on the right side of the law and the police. Let our opponents make the mistakes which lead to helpful intervention by the authorities.
Demonstrators have a right to express their views, but shoppers and shops equally have rights not to be obstructed, harassed, intimidated or disrupted as they go about their lawful business.
The police have a difficult job of upholding these rights. Help them, and they will help us.
We must stay on the right side of the law
Jonathan Turner is chair of UK Lawyers for Israel