August 15, 2012
Palestenian rights activists return to the Max Brenner store at Melbourne’s QV square after their court victory for free speech and assembly in Victoria.
August 15, 2012
Palestenian rights activists return to the Max Brenner store at Melbourne’s QV square after their court victory for free speech and assembly in Victoria.
On Thursday 13 October 2011, Jews against the Occupation Sydney led a flash mob action outside Max Brenner Chocolate Shop in the Westfield Plaza, Bondi Junction, Sydney. We were supported by the Socialist Alliance, the Socialist Alternative, Actively Radical TV and other Palestine solidarity activists. We support the call by Palestinian civil society for boycotts, divestment sanctions against Israel because the State of Israel continues to defy international law and the human and national rights of the Palestinians.
Sept 12 – Adelaide
Equating the BDS movement with Nazism is both offensive and outrageous. So why aren’t members of the Jewish community speaking out on this, asks Antony Loewenstein
Joseph Stalin changed his name and so did New South Wales Federal Greens MP Lee Rhiannon.
Stalin, writes Alan Howe, executive editor and columnist with Rupert Murdoch’s Herald Sun, was “perhaps the 20th century’s greatest murderer”.
Rhiannon backs the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and, argues Howe, people should know about “the 1930s where violent protests against Jewish traders may end. It was a colourful time of brownshirts, blackshirts and yellow Stars of David”.
In this fashion, Rhiannon is likened to a supporter of fascism and remains “against the only democracy in the Middle East and the one country in which the region’s Arabs are guaranteed safety”.
Welcome to the level of debate in Australia over the Israel/Palestine conflict. The last months have seen a litany of public figures that should know better accusing anybody associated with the BDS movement of embracing Nazism, anti-Semitism and outright Jew-hatred.
It shames the Australian Jewish establishment that no leading voices have challenged this odious and absurd comparison. Instead, they’ve cheered it on, coordinating nationally, with the support of an Israeli government desperate to distract from its own anti-democratic practices.
The Australian Jewish News has editorialised that boycotting Jewish businesses here will remind Jews of similar Nazi tactics in Germany and Austria in the 1930s. How on earth will the paper cover real anti-Semitism when they so casually compare today’s behaviour to Hitler’s Third Reich?
Back in early July, 19 pro-Palestinian activists were arrested and charged for protesting in front of a Max Brenner chocolate shop in Melbourne. Max Brenner was targeted because its parent company Strauss Group supports elements of the IDF accused of war crimes in both the West Bank and Gaza.
This campaign has continued globally for years. For example, a reader of my website in 2009 sent me a copy of a letter they sent to Max Brenner outlining the reasons the company was a legitimate target for boycott.
The Victorian Government recently continued to threaten the activists with further legal punishment, imprisonment and fines.
Max Brenner’s parent company Strauss Group is an openly political business that proudly states on its Hebrew website that “We see a mission and need to continue to provide our soldiers with support, to enhance their quality of life and service conditions, and sweeten their special moments”. Some of these soldiers were directly implicated in war crimes allegations during incursions into the West Bank and the invasion of Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009.
In late July, The Australian reported the campaign against the BDS movement in Australia with a story called, “Anti-Jew protest condemned”. Federal Labor MP Michael Danby, journalist Jana Wendt and union head Paul Howes met for a hot chocolate inside a Max Brenner shop in Melbourne, condemned the “violent” protest against the shop and again talked about Nazi Germany. Former Labor Party president Warren Mundine was quoted by journalist Leo Shanahan as saying BDS was not “not anti-Israel but anti-Jewish”.
Howes said the protesters were “mimicking the behaviour of the Nazi thugs” and it was necessary to “nip this in the bud”. Howes said most people who voted for the Greens had no idea how “xenophobic” its policies were. Not one journalist asked him whether he truly believed waving placards outside a shop in Melbourne is akin to the Gestapo arresting and murdering millions of Jews in the gas chambers. And no Jewish leaders took him to task for the comparison.
Last weekend’s article by The Australian’s Cameron Stewart allowed this misperception to perpetuate. Like Shanahan, Stewart quoted Wendt as saying that, “As the daughter of refugees whose lives were critically affected by both fascism and communism, I’m grateful for what Australia has to offer”.
A week later, the Victorian Government announced that it was investigating “anti-Israel activists” — by asking the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) if the BDS-ers were breaking federal law by “threatening” Israeli stores.
The state’s Consumer Affairs Minister Michael O’Brien raised the spectre of 20th century attacks on Jewish businesses and claimed BDS was a threat to democratic order. Bizarrely, he singled out the Maritime Union Of Australia, Geelong Trades Hall Council, the Green Left Weekly magazine, Australians for Palestine and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. For the record, Australians for Palestine had nothing to do with the BDS protest against Max Brenner, though they do back BDS.
The Australian followed up with a story recently headlined, “Targeted chocolatier ‘a man of peace’”. “Max Brenner says he is a man of peace who hates all forms of violence,” the article says. Reporter Cameron Stewart doesn’t mention the serious allegations against the IDF soldiers supported by Max Brenner. (And besides, Max Brenner is the name of the business — not of the company owner. Actually, it’s an amalgam of two names.)
One of the activists interviewed by Stewart, Kim Bullimore, spokesperson for Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, told me that little of what she said to the journalist ended up in the article.
The Australian editorialised further on the matter last week by arguing “for any student of 20th-century history there is something deeply offensive about targeting a Jewish-owned business”.
And the Jewish establishment said nothing.
BDS is a peaceful, non-violent movement, like that which campaigned against apartheid South Africa. It aims to put pressure on a state that refuses to end its illegal occupation of Palestinian land.
What Australian politicians will not acknowledge is the real face of modern Israel. Calling for BDS inside Israel is now illegal. As an Arab member of parliament recently told the New York Times, a member of the Knesset wanted to sue him for simply calling for a boycott against the illegal settlement of Ariel. This is in “democratic” Israel.
With Israel announcing yet more illegal colonies in the West Bank, the international community has a clear choice: engage in empty rhetoric about “democratic” Israel or find alternative ways to target a state with one of the most unequal class systems in the developed world.
Australian politicians and all public figures should be strongly challenged on comparing BDS to fascist hoodlums, and rejected.
13 August 2011
We the undersigned call on the Victorian Consumer Affairs Minister Michael O’Brien to withdraw allegations he made singling out several pro-Palestine advocacy groups calling for them to be investigated by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) for an alleged suspicion that they may be involved in ‘secondary boycotts’ against Israeli-owned businesses in Australia.
These allegations form an ongoing campaign of intensified attacks on Palestine solidarity organising and freedom of expression in Australia. We understand the current round of attacks to be a direct reaction to a growing international solidarity movement in support of Palestinian human rights, so we take the opportunity to reiterate our support for the Palestinian civil society’s call for boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) from Israel.
The BDS campaign is based on well-founded criticism of the Israeli state for its ongoing violations of international law, violations that include: Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories; its settlement-building and construction of an apartheid wall on occupied land; its refusal to respect the right of Palestinian refugees to return; and its ongoing military siege on the Gaza strip.
As in the past when the Australian people participated in the boycott campaign against apartheid South Africa, we affirm our right to participate in the BDS campaign against apartheid Israel in our churches, unions, professional bodies, local councils, parliaments and community groups. This campaign has provided a vital and viable framework and non-violent approach to building an anti-apartheid movement grounded in principles of international solidarity. People of conscience in Australia, have a proud history of principled international solidarity through BDS campaigns – any legalistic attempts, employing anti-union laws such as the ‘secondary boycotts’ law, will fail to deter social justice groups from vocally advocating the BDS campaign and supporting Palestinian human rights.
It is very disappointing that elected politicians choose to launch investigations into human-rights and solidarity organisations, rather than explain to the public why Israel is not held to account for its violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice against Israel’s Wall and colonial settlements. The active attempts to repress Australian organisations that work to promote Israel’s accountability before international law is beyond reproach.
We stress that the BDS movement is an anti-racist movement that rejects all forms of racism including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. The consumer-boycott campaigns are aimed at institutions and businesses that provide support for ongoing Israeli violations of international law, they do not target any particular religious or ethnic group.
We note that most of the organisations named by the Minister for the investigation did not take part in the protest he refers to against Max Brenner stores in Melbourne. This is a clear indication that he has not looked closely into the matter, but is purely targeting all pro-Palestine advocacy groups on the basis of their support for BDS. Although, we may not have all participated in this specific protest, we strongly believe in the basic right to peacefully protest and raise awareness about businesses that have questionable policies and show blatant disregard for basic human rights.
We urge elected officials to remember that their job is to protect rights and freedoms and to represent democratic values, not to waste our hard earned tax dollars on trying to appease a foreign state and those who blindly cheer for it.
Justice for Palestine (JFP-Qld)
Australians for Palestine (AFP)
Women for Palestine (WFP)
Australian Friends of Palestine (AFOPA-SA)
Action for Palestine (SA)
Friends of Palestine (FOP-WA)
Students for Justice for Palestine (UTS)
Students for Palestine (Vic)
Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC-Melbourne)
Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA)
Australian Palestinian Professionals Association (APPA)
Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN)
Artists Against Apartheid (AAA)
Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine (CJPP-Sydney)
DON’T DRESS UP ISRAELI APARTHEID AND OCCUPATION!
In 2005, Palestinian civil society issued the Palestinian Unified Call for Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Inspired by the struggle of South Africans against apartheid, the Palestinian-initiated BDS campaign is conducted in the framework of international solidarity and resistance to injustice and oppression and calls for non-violent punitive measures to be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognise the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with international law.
On March 19, Palestine solidarity activists from the Coalition Against Israel Apartheid staged a peaceful BDS action at the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival.
Since the mid-1990s, L’Oreal has been operating in Israel, motivated in part by political consideration. L’Oreal Israel operates a factory in the Israeli town of Migdal Ha’emek in the Lower Galilee. The settlement of Migdal Ha’emek was established in 1952 on lands belonging to the ethnically-cleansed Palestinian village of al-Mujaydil, whose original inhabitants are still denied the right to return to their homes.
L’Oreal Israel also manufacturers a line of products using Dead Sea minerals under the name “Natural Sea Beauty” that is exported to 22 countries. While L’Oreal exploits minerals from the Dead Sea, the region and its resources are systematically closed to the indigenous Palestinian people by Israel’s military occupation and apartheid practices, which have set up a network of checkpoints, segregated roads and exclusive zones.
While Palestinian academics and students in the occupied territories and Israel are systematically impeded by Israeli occupation roadblocks and other oppressive measures from conducting normal academic life and research, L’Oreal awarded a $100,000 “lifetime achievement” award to a scientist at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science in July 2008. The Weizmann Institute, since its establishment, has been a major center for clandestine research and development of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons on behalf of Israel’s military establishment with which it has close ties. It is, therefore, one of many academic institutions in Israel that are in collusion with the state’s violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.
For more information on the BDS campaign: http://www.bdsmovement.net
For more information on L’Oreal and BDS: http://www.bdsmovement.net/?q=node/231
Marrickville Council in Sydney, recently became the first municipality in Australia to support the Palestinian initiated BDS campaign. They have since become of the target of a harassment campaign by groups pressuring the councillors to change their conscientious decision.
PLEASE SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR MARRICKVILLE COUNCIL!
Marrickville BDS is seeking support of organisations and individuals to do one or several of these things:
1. Encourage the councillors to stay strong by sending a personal email of support to Fiona Byrne, Mayor of Marrickville email@example.com
Copy the addresses of the other councillors into the cc field of your email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Include your name, city and country.
2. Endorse the letter (view here: http://marrickvillebds.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/open-letter.pdf) supporting the right of Marrickville Council to endorse Palestinian BDS call as part of its ethical investment and purchasing strategy.
To add your or your organization’s name to the list of endorsers, email email@example.com with your name and either your suburb or any title/position you would like to include.
3. Please forward this information to others, asking them to add their voice!
4. Post the action alert to Facebook. Suggested thing to post:
ACTION ALERT! Counter the harassment campaign trying to reverse Marrickville’s support for BDS! marrickvillebds.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/hello-world/
5. Tweet. Here’s a suggestion:
ACTION ALERT! A harassment campaign is trying to reverse Marrickville’s BDS victory! marrickvillebds.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/hello-world/ (Savvier tweeters may do better.)
Please email your endorsement to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible, no later than Friday 11 March, 2011.
The open letter will be presented to Marrickville Council at the next meeting. Marrickville BDS will be providing a copy of the letter and a list of signatories to all Councillors. The motion to support the worldwide BDS campaign was supported by 10 councillors; ALP, Green and Independent.
Background Info & Resolution:
In December, 2010, the local council of Marrickville, which is a Sister City to Bethlehem, decided as part of its ethical investment and purchasing strategy, to endorse the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel until that country complies with international humanitarian law. More information is available at http://coalitionforpalestine.org/bds/local-government/marrickvillebds or, for links to media articles, http://coalitionforpalestine.org/bds/media-links. Here is the resolution:
1. In particular recognition of its sister city relationship with Bethlehem and the strong support for this relationship from local progressive faith communities and other community members, Marrickville Council support the principles of the BDS global campaign and report back on any links the Council has with organisations or companies that support or profit from the Israeli military occupation of Palestine with a view to the Council divesting from such links and imposing a boycott on any future such links or goods purchases.
2. Marrickville Council boycott all goods made in Israel and any sporting, institutional academic, government or institutional cultural exchanges.
3. Marrickville Council write to the local State and Federal ministers (Carmel Tebbutt and Anthony Albanese) informing them of Council’s position and seeking their support at the State and Federal level for the global BDS movement.
Wednesday, 15 December, 2010
Last night Bethlehem’s sister city in Australia again made history by voting to support the Unified Palestinian Call for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions. Marrickville is the first municipality in Australia to take this important step to support human rights and international humanitarian law in Palestine.
Residents concerned about Israel’s ongoing violations of human rights sat through four and a half hours of debate on local issues before Council finally reached Item 11 – Notice of Motion: Supporting the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign.
Marrickville Council’s website says “As a community, we stand for what is fair and right. It doesn’t take much for us to come together – whether it is working for a better environment, fighting proposed school closures or simply joining in at a local fundraiser or rally.”
Last night we saw the truth of this commitment as, with the support of residents, the Greens, Labor and an Independent councillor united at Marrickville Municipal Council to adopt the following resolution moved by Greens Councillor Cathy Peters:
- In particular recognition of its sister city relationship with Bethlehem and the strong support for this relationship from local progressive faith communities and other community members, Marrickville Council support the principles of the BDS global campaign and report back on any links the Council has with organisations or companies that support or profit from the Israeli military occupation of Palestine with a view to the Council divesting from such links and imposing a boycott on any future such links or goods purchases.
- Marrickville Council boycott all goods made in Israel and any sporting, institutional academic, government or institutional cultural exchanges.
- Marrickville Council write to the local State and Federal ministers (Carmel Tebbutt and Anthony Albanese) informing them of Council’s position and seeking their support at the State and Federal level for the global BDS movement.
The 75,000 residents of Marrickville come from all around the world. Over 100 different cultures are represented here with 70 or more different languages spoken. Marrickville is built on the land belonging to the Cadigal Wangal clans of the Eora nation and Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are well represented here.
The Council’s Statement of Commitment to Aboriginal Australians, begins by saying:“Marrickville Council acknowledges the prior ownership of this area by the Cadigal people who were dispossessed by European invasion more than two hundred years ago. We celebrate the survival of Aboriginal people and their culture following the devastating impact of European invasion and support their right to determine their own future.”
Now Marrickville has also declared its commitment to the right of self-determination for the Palestinian people. The decision comes at a time when support for the global BDS campaign is growing rapidly especially amongst unions and churches.
Polls consistently show that the Australian people support a fair go for Palestine. In mid-2009, a poll jointly commissioned by the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Australians Friends of Palestine Association, the surprising results show that Australians are “reading between the lines of the media bias against Palestine and Palestinians.”
This national poll showed that both the federal Labor Government and the Liberal opposition are out of step with what Australians think.
Local government, at least in Marrickville, seems to be more closely in touch with the thinking of average Australians and certainly more in touch with humanitarian and democratic principles.
Thank you Marrickville.