Protests turn nasty outside Israeli EcoStream

By Sandy Rashty, February 7, 2013
Brighton’s Ecostream shop is the site of increasingly angry protests each week (Photo: PA)

Brighton’s Ecostream shop is the site of increasingly angry protests each week (Photo: PA)

A woman was arrested last Saturday amid escalating protests outside an Israeli store in Brighton.

Julie Warman, 44, was charged with racially or religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress following an incident during a protest outside EcoStream, a Sussex police spokesperson confirmed.

Ms Warman pleaded not guilty at Brighton Magistrates Court on Monday and has been remanded on bail. The case will go to trial on July 18.

Protests outside the Israeli company have been an ongoing issue since the shop opened last August. Pro-Israel campaigners, often members of Sussex Friends of Israel (SFI), regularly confront Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and Boycott Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) activists near the shop on Saturday lunch-times.

Last month, after complaints from members of the PSC and BDS movement against SFI members Marlene Williams and Simon Cobbs, investigations were dropped.

An allegation of common assault was made against Mr Cobbs during a protest outside EcoStream last year.

“I told the guy who chained himself outside the shop that if he wanted to bully someone, he could bully me,” Mr Cobbs explained. “I didn’t touch him.”

Ms Williams, who is Christian, was counter-protesting against boycotters of the Israeli dance group Batsheva last November at the Brighton Dome. She said: “One woman screamed ‘Free Palestine’ in my ear. She then knocked my phone out of my hand. She smirked before she did it again.”

The BDS activist “went to the police and told them that I had caused red marks on her face — but I didn’t touch her face.”

Both investigations into the allegations against the pair, who were represented by Julian Hunt from UK Lawyers for Israel were dropped. Mr Hunt said: “These are two wholly innocent individuals who have been dragged through a police investigation in respect of allegations of no substance by people in boycott movements.”

Reports of violence, alleged antisemitism and spitting from members of the BDS and PSC outside EcoStream were reported to Brighton MP Caroline Lucas during a Zionist Federation lobby of Parliament last month.

Dr Lucas, a member of the British-Palestine Parliamentary Group and a supporter of the PSC, said: “In light of the events that have been brought to my attention, I call on all those protesting at or near the store to reassert their commitment to doing so peacefully.”

Last year, a man was fined for making a Nazi salute outside EcoStream.

Last updated: 5:45pm, February 7 2013