Green Left rejects attempt to silence Palestine supporters

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.

See also:
Israeli activists express support for Aus. BDS campaigners
Geelong Trades Hall condemns arrest of pro-Palestine activists
Socialist Alliance: Baillieu tries to silence protest in Victoria
Urgent: Melbourne Palestine solidarity activists arrested in dawn raids
Australians for Palestine: Don't erode our democracy!
Students for Palestine: Police persecute Palestine solidarity activists
MUA secretary: arrests of protesters an attack on free speech

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.


It is hard to justify direct action to complain about Israel breaching various laws by going out and breaching other laws yourself. The most important principle for all parties to observe here is the rule of law. The second your supporters break Australia law they lose all legitimacy.

If two people act in concert to physically prevent customers of Max Brenner from acquiring products from Max Brenner stores, they are likely to be breaching section 45D of the Competition and Consumer Act. That is not a consumer boycott - it is an illegal secondary boycott. A consumer boycott it when consumers chose not to buy products from a company to show their disapproval of that company or, in this case, the country where Max Brenner's ultimate parent company is located.

Michael Terceiro

There is no "physical prevention" of customers of Max Brenner. There is a movement campaigning for a boycott of the company because it directly supports and benefits from the Israeli military occupation of Palestine. Supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel's abuse of Palestinian human rights is not "illegal". But the Victorian government is certainly trying to criminalise these protests - an attempt to silence and intimidate people from speaking out for human rights and justice.

Supporting the BDS campaign is now illegal in apartheid Israel which is an outrageous abuse Israeli citizens' democratic rights. It makes Zionist claims that Israel is a democracy just laughable.

The Israeli government is becoming increasingly repressive of internal and external dissent to its racist project. Now, Israel supporters in Australia are pushing for governments adopt the same approach and criminalise the BDS campaign.

Good on Green Left for taking a courageous stand against this dangerous trend towards criminalizing protest.

Are you kidding? Have a look at the You Tube videos. There is clearly "physical prevention" if not intimidation of customers who are seeking to go into the Max Brenner stores - it is even called a picket line in the You Tube videos.

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