How The Australian invented the man Max Brenner

Max Brenner is a corporation, not a person.

An article, “Targeted chocolatier Max Brenner ‘a man of peace’”, in the August 13 Australian by Cameron Stewart purported to be an examination of issues around the targeting of Max Brenner by Palestine solidarity protesters as part of the global boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign.

The article makes significant use of quotes by the “chocolatier Max Brenner”, and repeatedly refers to him. Yet there is no such person associated with the company or its parent company, Strauss.

The persona of Max Brenner is a fictitious marketing creation. The name is derived from the names of the original company’s founders, Max Fichtman and Oded Brenner. The Max Brenner company became part of what is now the Strauss Group in 2001.

Given this, its hard to see how “Max Brenner” could have provided the quotes in Stewart’s article.

Nor how Stewart could confidently give “Max Brenner’s” biographical details — when a five second internet search would have revealed the truth.

It is possible the quotes are attributable to Oded Brenner, who is a chocolatier, but Stewart gives no indication of this.

In contrast, the article gives very little space to the Palestine solidarity activists and no serious investigation of their case.

Kim Bullimore from the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, a real person this time who Stewart interviewed, said in a blog post: “Only the barest of information is included [in the article] about why pro-Palestine/BDS activists were actually in fact protesting at Max Brenner, despite the fact I had explained this in detail to Stewart — including the connection between Max Brenner/Strauss and the Israeli military.”

Stewart’s article shows, at best, a feckless and lazy approach to very important issues. At worst, it’s an attempt to sway the reader to a particular conclusion by deliberate deceit and misrepresentation.

The incidents that spurred the article raise issues of human rights, international law, Australian foreign policy, and domestic rights to protest and freedom of speech. Very serious matters.

That such a senior journalist at the Australian — its associate editor and supposed foreign affairs specialist — can produce an article quoting a fictitious person and including such glaring weaknesses and oversights raises serious questions about the Australian’s intent to properly report these issues.

The Australian displays a naked bias in favour of Israel, evident in the language it employs, the weighting of coverage, the discrepancy of opinion pieces, the casual denigration of activists, and its willingness to promote the conflation of any opposition to policies of the Israeli state with anti-Semitism.

Stewart’s article appears to be a continuation of that bias — one that does not have the good grace to even pretend to respect its readers’ intelligence.


thanks for writing this article Leslie, needed to be done and you've made a really good job of it
Look up a company called magnum PR. the employee, mark, is in charge of this. i rang posing as a concerned QV shop owner leading cross protests and got told MB was on long service leave. i asked if there were any pre-prepped statements by MB i could use for our group newsletter and mark proceeded to tell me he was sure he could "put something together for me." At no point did he correct me that the persona was a PR thing. I believe personally, cameron stewart was a victim of good PR myself, as well as being a lazy writer who only relied on that company for the research, as they supplied the same bio info that he did...