Green Left Weekly rejects the attempt by the Victorian government to criminalise supporters of Palestinian rights, Green Left coeditor Stuart Munckton said.
The August 8 Australian reported the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has been asked to investigate whether organisations who supported calls for a consumer boycott of chocolate shop Max Brenner for its ties with the Israeli military were in breach of 45D of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 that bans so-called secondary boycotts.
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Victorian consumer affairs minister Michael O’Brien named the Maritime Union Of Australia, Geelong Trades Hall Council, Green Left Weekly, Australians for Palestine and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
Munckton said: “Green Left is an independent, social justice newspaper that has long campaigned against racism and injustice — including for the rights of Palestinians.”
The August 8 Australian reported O'Brien claimed the call to boycott Max Brenner “was especially concerning given the 20th-century history behind attacks on Jewish businesses”.
Munckton said: “The attempt to equate supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign with anti-Semitism — in particular the campaign in Nazi Germany to boycott Jewish-owned businesses — is entirely unfounded.
“BDS campaign is a global campaign supporting justice for the Palestinian people. It does not target any company on the basis of religion or ethnicity.
“Even a cursory glance at the statements of organisations supporting BDS show that no business is targetted for being Jewish-owned.
“O’Brien’s threat is an attempt to silence those who support the rights of Palestinians. This is an attack on the rights of free speech.”
He said: “The demands of the global BDS campaign, called for by 171 Palestinian civil society organisations, are to: end the occupation of Palestinian land occupied by Israel since 1967; recognise of the rights of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and recognise the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.”
Green Left Weekly coeditor Simon Butler said BDS was part of a long tradition of using consumer boycotts to pursue justice.
“Such a campaign of boycotts and sanctions was critical to ending the apartheid regime in South Africa, which has inspired people around the world to seek to use similar measures to end Israel’s apartheid-like policies towards Palestinians.”
The requested investigation arose after a peaceful protest outside a Max Brenner outlet in Melbourne that was violently attacked by Victorian police on July 1. Nineteen protesters were arrested at the action.
Butler said: “Green Left is proud to join with the likes of Nobel Peace Prize-winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu in supporting the global BDS campaign.”
He called on the Victorian government to drop its attempt to criminalise calls for a boycott of companies complicit in the crimes of the Israeli state.
“We also call on the ACCC to reject attempts to investigate organisations whose only 'crime' has been to encourage people to use their right to choose where they shop as a means of expressing their support for the aims of the BDS campaign.
“We also call on media commentators and politicians to cease equating calls for consumer boycotts of companies on the basis of their complicity in gross human rights abuses with targeting ‘Jewish businesses’.
“We won't be intimidated from supporting the international BDS campaign or campaigning to achieve its goal of long overdue justice for the Palestinian people,” he said.