By Alastair JamiesonÂ /Â Times Online
Paks call for end to Israel’s ‘campaign of terrorism’- not worried about Taliban takover…
* Taliban’s deadly ‘justice’ cows Pakistan* Sharia judges are ordering beatings and executions as punishment for cases of ‘immoral activity’
*Â British Wacademics: ‘Israel must lose’ war with Hamas/full article at end of this page
Riot police surrounded up to 240 demonstrators in central London, many wearing scarves covering their faces, who broke away from a rally in Trafalgar Square at about 5pm.
Up to 200 were tracked by a police helicopter as they ransacked the coffee shops in Piccadilly and Shaftesbury Avenue while 40 more were contained in Hyde Park, thought to be on their way to the Israeli embassy in Kensington.
The United States coffee chain has recently been the subject of an internet boycott campaign amid claims it donates profits to Israel â€“ an accusation it strongly denies.
Commander Bob Broadhurst, in charge of public order policing for the Metropolitan Police, said: “Once again what we have witnessed in London today is a group of thugs, who are not interested in lawful protest, run through the streets smashing shops without care for the alarm they caused the public.
“Thousands of people expressed their views in an earlier, lawful, rally in Trafalgar Square…What followed was totally unacceptable criminal behaviour by a small minority who do not appear to care about any cause. Their behaviour was inexcusable as they took part in wanton criminality.”
Police said the London rally was attended by 3,500 people while organisers of a rally in Birmingham said more than 5,000 turned up.
An Israeli flag was set alight at the rally outside Birmingham’s Council House in Victoria Square.
Abdulah Abdulah, 25, a clerk from Birmingham said: “The whole world knows this is something serious and the reason that people are angry is that they are getting more frustrated because nothing is being done.”
In London, former Labour cabinet minister Tony Benn was among the speakers addressing the crowds.
The violence followed demonstrations by thousands of protesters, who waved banners demanding an end to the attacks on Gaza and chanted “Free. Free Palestine”.
A passer-by said that trouble began when pro-and anti-Israeli demonstrators clashed in Piccadilly.
The man, who did not wish to be named, said groups of protesters had been split up by the police in an attempt to divert them as they tried to march to the Israeli Embassy. He said: “Both sides were getting rowdy and somebody smashed the windows of a Starbucks down past The Ritz but I’m not sure which side it was.”
By 7pm only a small group of protesters remained outside Green Park where they were surrounded by police and arrested.
Shortly after 7.30pm Piccadilly was reopened to traffic going towards Kensington High Street and repair work had already started on the windows of one of the Starbucks smashed by protesters.
One demonstrator said problems had begun when people had not been allowed to leave Trafalgar Square.
The man, who refused to give his name, said: “People tried to leave by walking round the left hand side of the National Gallery. But when we were stopped and came back on ourselves and tried to go round the other side the police linked arms to stop us and there was a big crush.
“We eventually came through Leicester Square and got on to Piccadilly and the police tried to shove everyone back onto the pavement. It was around then I heard somebody smash a window as they walked past Starbucks.”
Another rally is planned for the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration outside the US Embassy in central London.
British academics: ‘Israel must lose’ war with Hamas
A group of British-basedÂ academicsÂ have called forÂ IsraelÂ to lose the battle with Hamas in Gaza, stating that the “massacres in Gaza [are] the latest phase of a warÂ IsraelÂ has waged against the people of Palestine for more than 60 years.”
In a letter in Friday’sÂ GuardianÂ newspaper, more than 300Â academicsÂ said they must do all they can to preventÂ IsraelÂ from winning the war. A cease-fire is not enough, they say, adding: “IsraelÂ must lose.”
“We must do what we can to stopÂ IsraelÂ from winning its war,”Â the letterÂ said. “IsraelÂ must accept that its security depends on justice and peaceful coexistence with its neighbors, and not upon the criminal use of force.”
“It is not enough to call for another cease-fire, or more humanitarian assistance,” they wrote. “It is not enough to urge the renewal of dialogue and to acknowledge the concerns and suffering of both sides.
“If we believe in the principle of democratic self-determination, if we affirm the right to resist military aggression and colonial occupation, then we are obliged to take sides… againstÂ Israel, and with the people of Gaza and the West Bank,” they wrote.
The letterÂ accusedÂ IsraelÂ of wanting to eradicate the Palestinians as a political force.
“The goal of this war has never changed: to use overwhelming military power to eradicate the Palestinians as a political force, one capable of resisting Israel’s ongoing appropriation of their land and resources.
“Israel’s war against the Palestinians has turned Gaza and the West Bank into a pair of gigantic political prisons. There is nothing symmetrical about this war in terms of principles, tactics or consequences.Â IsraelÂ is responsible for launching and intensifying it, and for ending the most recent lull in hostilities.”
The letterÂ ends with a call for a blanket boycott ofÂ Israel.
“We call on the British government and the British people to take all feasible steps to obligeÂ IsraelÂ to comply with these demands, starting with a program of boycott, divestment and sanctions,” the group wrote.
* Scumbags, Jew-haters, self-hating Jews and Pali-Arab hate-mongers:
The letterÂ is signed by an array ofÂ academicsÂ from across the UK. It includes a number of Palestinian and Israeli-bornÂ academics, including Haim Bresheeth, who has been active in the call to boycott Israeli academic institutions over the year.
It also includes Mona Baker, the Egyptian-born academic atÂ Manchester UniversityÂ who infamously removed two IsraeliÂ academics, Dr. Miriam Schlesinger of Bar-Ilan University and Prof. Gideon Toury of Tel Aviv University, from the editorial boards of her journals in 2002 because of their affiliation to Israeli institutions.