Anti-Israel activists have pledged to turn a new eco-friendly concept store into “the next Ahava”.
Protesters staged a demonstration outside the EcoStream shop in Brighton last Saturday.
Their action follows a long-running campaign at the Ahava Israeli cosmetics store in Covent Garden, London. Ahava was forced to move after more than two years of protests, during which activists threw paint at its windows and on one occasion chained themselves to a concrete block in the shop.
The Brighton store is the first opened in Britain by SodaStream, the fizzy drinks manufacturer whose products were popular in the 1980s. The firm later merged with Israeli producers Soda Club and is now based in Mishor Adumim, an industrial park next to Ma’ale Adumim, the third largest West Bank settlement.
The protesters have claimed that Palestinians living in villages around the industrial area are prevented from building permanent structures by the Israeli military.
EcoStream offers customers recyclable household products and SodaStream flavours sold in refillable containers, in an attempt to cut down on plastic waste.
The shop opened four weeks ago and the protest was the first at the site. During the demonstration the anti-Israel activists clashed with members of the public and passers-by who objected to the use of megaphones and the handing out of leaflets.
Staff attempted to keep access to the shop open, but police were eventually called to restore order.
SodaStream declined comment, but the JC understands that executives, aware of the history with Ahava, knew of the potential for protests when they decided to open in the city.
Staff had also been warned of the likelihood of demonstrations and were informed before being employed about the controversy over the company’s settlement headquarters.
Veteran anti-Israel activist Tony Greenstein helped organise the demonstration. He said that “instead of mounting pickets every two weeks, as happened at Ahava, we are going to do a weekly picket of this apartheid shop”.