Carole Swords (Mc Laughlin), chair of Tower Hamlets Respect Party, attacked Harvey Garfield after he allegedly stood in the way of her damaging Israeli goods at a Tesco supermarket in central London.
Swords, 59, entered a Tesco store in Covent Garden on August 13, 2011 after attending an anti-Israel demonstration outside the nearby Ahava cosmetics (product of Israel) store in Covent Garden, central London.
Garfield claimed that he was at the store to defend Israeli products from potential vandalism by protesters. “On the day, I heard about the supermarket protest and went along in order to inform the store and help identify the activists,” he said.
Garfield said that Swords had approached the staff at the grocery store and demanded to know why it stocked Israeli products. She was told to address any complaints to Tesco’s head office. At that point she left the store but then returned, and after seeing Garfield, she swore at him and assaulted him.
Giving evidence, Mr. Garfield said he had been volunteering at the store once a fortnight to advise staff about the anti-Israel protests. He provided early warnings of "more extreme demonstrations" which could cause disturbance and vandalism.
He explained how he was attacked. "She walked past me and down the aisle. I turned to follow her at a distance… She stopped and said to me 'don't you f***ing follow me'. I turned my head to reply, but she struck me in the face.
"It happened in a fraction of a second. The next thing I knew I was bending down to pick up my glasses. Her words were quite forceful, I was taken aback. It was absolutely not an accident. I was surprised more than anything. I had never been struck before in that way." He said he then found a police officer who arrested her, and she spent 10 hours in custody.
At City of London Magistrates Court on Jan 26, 2012, Swords denied assaulting Mr. Garfield, claiming he had harassed and attacked her whilst calling her a Nazi and a Palestinian terrorist as she entered the store to buy a drink.
Swords expressed the view that Mr. Garfield was a “rabid dog” who was ill. She said that she could see Mr. Garfield’s face streaming with sweat and she could smell his “evil breath” on her face. Swords also stated that Mr. Garfield spat in her face, and mimed wiping spittle away with her hand. Swords claimed that Mr. Garfield had lifted her off her feet and swung her round and had bruised her arm.
Swords argued that Mr. Garfield had told her that she was a “supporter of terror.” Garfield said no but that he had a photo of her in Gaza standing behind Hamas [leader Mahmoud] Zahar stating that Hamas is a proscribed terrorist organization by her majesty’s government.”
James Mehigan defending Swords repeatedly accused Mr. Garfield of being a "vigilante". Mr. Garfield responded: "That's absolutely not true. I did not take the law into my own hands." “I said a vigilante was a person who took the law into his own hands whereas I was responding as a responsible member of the public who acted to prevent a potential act of criminal damage.”
The magistrates disbelieved her evidence, and noted that the claims were at odds with the CCTV evidence. The magistrates agreed with the prosecution that Swords had used "threatening and abusive words or behavior to cause harassment".
She also claimed that she had not entered Tesco for the purpose of engaging in anti-Israel activism. However, she had previously engaged in disruptive behavior, in the same shop, a few months previously.
Swords spoke of her part-Jewish upbringing: while she was a Catholic, her mother was from a Russian Jewish family. She said that her family had “one of them Jewish cookers” and that two of her uncles ran a delicatessen in the East End. She had been involved in anti-Israel activity for 20 years since visiting Bethlehem and Jerusalem and "realizing things weren't quite right".
After magistrates were shown a copy of the "boycott Israeli goods" leaflets Swords had distributed, she told them: "Why would I destroy Israeli goods? I eat Israeli goods." She claimed she had not read the pro-boycott material before distributing it.
Swords was found guilty on one charge of a public order offence and given a conditional discharge. She must pay court costs of £250. Swords offered to pay £1 a week because she is on state benefits for income support. According to the Respect Party, Swords will be “vigorously” appealing the charge.
Following the trial Mr. Garfield, 59, said: "In a sense I felt I was being put on trial, but I knew I was telling the truth." I will continue to do everything in my power that is legal and within the law to prevent the likes of Swords and the rest of the wretched bds / psc movement from committing similar acts which are designed to undermine and delegitimize Israel.
I have had first hand experience over 18 months observing how a group of neo- fascists have obsessively and systematically campaigned to close a legally trading store in the heart of London in scenes reminiscent of the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses in pre war Nazi Germany.
I have observed the group marching through the streets, with one young woman her right arm outright fist clenched chanting the mantra of a Palestinian state from the River to the Sea.
Does she understand these words? Does she imagine Israelis will one day wake up hold a referendum and vote themselves into an Islamic Palestinian state or are they waiting for existential war to accomplish that scenario?
What is wrong with these people that their obsessive hate causes them to lose all touch with reality and overrides the certainty of the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in the process.
My stand was a reflection of all the above. [It was] a unilateral action. A token gesture as I know these miscreants can choose any store in any town at a time of their choosing. But in this case it was not on my watch and so it turned out to be. I have no regrets. I hope I’m still doing it when I’m 90.
Carole Swords has been in direct support of a proscribed terrorist and clerical fascist anti-Semitic overseas group Hamas. She has not only pushed the line of that terrorist group, but also materials from anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers.
Swords has links to Mahmoud Al-Zahar, with whom she was recently photographed. Al-Zahar has claimed that it is acceptable to kill Jewish children all over the World.
Videos recommended by Respect’s Carole Swords on Facebook push the lie that the majority of European Jews have no genetic relationship to the populations of the Middle East, and I notice that the ‘80~90% Jews are NOT Semite’ video tellingly includes links to David Duke’s website and ‘Jew Watch’.
Carole Swords was recently condemned by a number of groups, including the Community Security Trust, the Jewish anti-racism organization, after she was filmed at an anti-Israel protest shouting “Go back to Russia” at a man outside the Israeli cosmetics store Ahava in Covent Garden. To see video, press here.
According to the popular London-based blog Harry’s Place, Swords had written on Facebook that Zionists are “cockroaches” who “hide in the dark and try to create havoc where they lay their eggs.” “And like a cockroach they are slim vile hard skin bugs and need to be stomped out,” she maintained.
She also claimed on another entry that Israel is in control of the US and, according to Harry’s Place, has recommended articles by Louis Farrakhan and recommending the anti-Semitic promoter of Holocaust-deniers and David Duke fan Hesham Tillawi, as well as the promoter of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Daryl Bradford Smith:
The blog has also shown that Swords liked a “Free Mohammed Hamid” page on Facebook. Hamid, according to Harry’s Place, is a recruiter of terrorists in the UK.
Carole Swords believes that Christians should march on Israel to reclaim the ‘Holy Land‘. On Facebook, Carole Swords has recently linked to a video of Holocaust denier Lady Renouf. At the end of the clip, Renouf claims that Christian support for Israel shows that there is no longer any Christianity, only “Holocaustianity.”
Swords is also an organizer for the Viva Palestina group set up by former MP and anti- Israel activist George Galloway and is the creator of their Viva Palestina facebook page. In September/October 2010, she took part in the Viva Palestina convoy to Hamas-led Gaza where she met with Hamas leaders.
Viva Palestina is a British-based registered charity which came into being in January 2009 by a group including British Member of Parliament George Galloway. The initial intention was to run a humanitarian aid convoy to the Gaza Strip in support of the terrorist organization Hamas. Its aims since becoming a registered charity are: "provision from the UK of food, medicine and essential goods and services needed by the civilian population" [of the occupied Palestinian Territories].”
Carole Swords is secretary of Tower Hamlets Respect Party. Carole was the leading figure in a high profile battle to stop her council estate from transferring to a housing association, under the Government’s Housing Choice scheme. As a result, Carole Swords was on the list of the Guardian Unlimited Politics's 50 most influential unelected people in Britain in 2007 as housing campaigner in Tower Hamlets.
She had, however, been banned from Council premises after she threw a glass of water over Councilor Marc Francis in the Council chamber.
The London Borough of Tower Hamlets covers much of the traditional East End. The area is notorious for deprivation, joblessness, and child poverty. The percentage of pupils on free school meals in the borough is the highest in England and Wales. Media reports in the 2000s and 2010s suggested that the area was becoming Islamised, and that residents were threatened for behaviour not in accordance with what The Daily Telegraph called "fundamentalist Islamic norms."
The borough has a population of 220,000, which includes one of the highest ethnic minority populations in the capital with a high representation of Bangladeshis (20.6%) and Somalis. The Muslim proportion of the borough's population is the largest out of all local authorities in England and Wales. There are around 40 mosques, including Islamic centres.
The East End was once known for its large Jewish population. In the 1870 and 80s, so many Jewish émigrés were arriving that over 150 synagogues were built. At the beginning of the 20th century over 100,000 Jews were crowded into the area. The East European refugees introduced socialism to the area. With increasing prosperity many Jews moved out to the suburbs, and today only some 3000 - mostly elderly - Jews remain in the East End.
Following the May 2010 election, Tower Hamlets London Borough Council was composed of 41 Labour Party members, 8 Conservative Party members, 1 Respect Party member and 1 Liberal Democrat member. Following a by-election in December 2010 Respect gained a seat from Labour.
Swords’s political party Respect is a socialist political party founded in January 2004. Its name is a contrived acronym standing for Respect, Equality, Socialism, Peace, Environmentalism, Community and Trade Unionism. Respect used the issue of the war in Iraq to mobilize its vote. Beyond this issue it has attempted to "provide a broad-based and inclusive alternative to the parties of privatization, war, and occupation" and has a broad socialist agenda.
The correlation between the performance of Respect and the Muslim population of an area suggests that it has succeeded in attracting the protest votes of some Muslims who feel alienated by Labour's support for the war.
The party is run by a mixture of revolutionary socialists and Islamists. In large part, Respect was formed as a coalition combining elements of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), a neo-Trotskyite revolutionary socialist movement Socialist Workers Party and the largest far-left group in the UK, and elements from, or associated with, the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), the British branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Respect also encompasses anti-globalization activists, radical socialists, the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) RCPB(ML), British Stop the War Coalition (SWC) members and leading Islamist figures.
Eran Benedek characterizes the party’s ideology as an amalgamation of radical international socialism and Islamism and offers a basis for cooperation around a shared agenda. Respect also speaks in the language of universal values such as peace, equality, human rights, and social justice.
The party is intensely anti-Zionist and denies the valid right to independent Jewish statehood in Israel. Respect is constitutionally committed to supporting the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), along with the concomitant effort to boycott anything related to Israel. The goal behind the rhetoric is the dissolution of the Jewish state via the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza in addition to permitting Arab Palestinian refugees to reside within Israel's borders and hence terminate Israel's Jewish character.
The party is also hostile to much of Western capitalism and understands world events largely through the lens of anti-imperialism. It voices hostility to neoliberal economics, which springs from its ideological anti-imperialism. Respect is against privatization of the railroad, national health and education. It is for increasing income tax of the rich to close the income gap.
Respect's best-known public figure is George Galloway who until 2010 was Respect's only Member of Parliament. Galloway is a one-time Labour member of parliament who was expelled from the party due to his outspoken views on privatization and Labour education policy.
George Galloway's had an impressive 2005 general-election victory over Labour incumbent Oona King in Bethnal Green and Bow. Galloway appealed to voters-primarily Muslim supporters-on Respect's antiwar platform. The campaign was marked by allegations of anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic attacks against King, who is of Jewish ancestry.
Galloway himself has personally handed over 25 000 pounds to the Hamas leadership in Gaza. Galloway proudly relates “And, if I could, I would give them 10 times, 100 times more.”
About half of Respect's money comes from Dr. Mohammed Naseem, who is also a leader of the Islamic Party of Britain.
In 2007, the Socialist Workers Party split away from Respect and ran its own candidates in the following election. Tension between the SWP and Muslim leaders had been inevitable from the outset. On 3 November 2007 Galloway's side revised the political structure of Respect by in effect creating a new political party "Respect Renewal."