Israelis bring trade campaign to UK

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The Independent Online

Trailing up the hill to Israel Expo 2002 yesterday, visitors passed a clutch of pro-Palestinians handing out flyers.

Trailing up the hill to Israel Expo 2002 yesterday, visitors passed a clutch of pro-Palestinians handing out flyers. One man grabbed a piece of paper, screwed it into a ball and tossed it into a bush. "You stupid woman. Tell the truth," he said.

"I'm telling the truth," she said. "No, you're not," said he. And with that, the pair went their separate ways and the "fun-filled day out for all the family" began.

The event, billed as the biggest ever exhibition of Israeli-made goods on sale in Britain, was intended as a show of solidarity in support of Israeli businesses and an opportunity to buy a nice dressing gown for Christmas.

With the Palestinian economy in an even worse state, it also became a focus for several dozen campaigners supporting a boycott of Israeli goods. They had the opportunity to spread their message as shoppers waited in the drizzle outside Alexandra Palace, north London to pass the rigorous security checks.

The British expo was planned because businesses were struggling in Israel.

Traders travelled to Britain for a day, including half the stallholders of the Nachalat Binyamin art market in Tel Aviv. One said the support of the British Jewish community meant that she could earn as much in one day as she would normally in four months back home. Several thousand people were expected to turn up.

The expo attracted representatives from the Israeli wine and tourist industries, as well as stalls selling crafts.While security was tight, there was defiance from customers after last week's attack on Israeli targets in Kenya.

Vivienne Flower, from Hampstead, north London, said she was there to show solidarity with Israel. "We felt a lot of people might stay away and we wanted to make sure people would be here. We didn't want them to be in an empty Alexandra Palace."

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