Write On: Letters to the editor

July 26, 2009

Why L'Oreal? Boycott Israeli goods!

I refer to the report "Boycott L'Oreal — because Palestine is worth it" (GLW #802). I find it puzzling that a French firm is being boycotted while Israeli-manufactured goods are not. The following are some Israeli brands being sold in Australia:

* At Bilo: Osem, Pri Vayrek, Bnei Dramon, Ashdot, Vered, hagalil, Hashacha;

* At Coles: Telma, Elite, Hashita, Biegel & Biegel, Eskal, Manama, Sharon Valley, Carmel;

* Wines labels: Dalton, Binyamina, Carmel, Tabor, Yarden, Sabra, Macabee, Goldstar; and

* At Bunnings: ZAG industries, Technoplast, Yafit, Gumexpo, Lotemplast, Upex, Humi, Plasgad.

Other brands sold here include: K & D Industries; Rummikub; Buki; Electra; Airwell; Starplast' Beautifeel Footwear; Chaos Menswear; Gottex; Gideon Oberson; Morel; Dr Fischer; Haddar; Barman; Ahava; Dead Sea minerals, and Seacrets.

People opposing Israeli expansionism and ethnic cleansing should boycott Israeli goods first and foremost before targeting firms investing in Israel.

Narendra Mohan Kommalapati[By email.]

Unconstitutional electoral system

While composing a submission to the Senate's Electoral Reform (Disclosure and Funding) Inquiry, I found that Australia's dominant electoral system, based on the 1918 Commonwealth Election Act, is unconstitutional. Sections 7 and 24 state that in the Senate and the House of Representatives respectively, MPs are to be directly chosen by the people.

In reality they are not. The single-member electoral district system, combined with preferential voting, grossly benefits the major parties. Typically, between five and 12 candidates present themselves for a seat in a federal election. Only one will be elected after the distribution of preferences.

In most cases, the successful major party candidate receives around 40% of the primary vote and then relies on preferences of the others. Therefore they are clearly not directly chosen.

Of course they are also pre-selected or appointed by the political parties, bodies ignored in the Constitution. In the Senate, the Hare-Clark system of proportional representation (introduced in 1949) gives minor parties and independents a better chance but most Senators are not directly elected either.

The major parties appoint their listed candidates and bank on the voters to follow their How-to-Vote cards, voting 96% "above the line" for a group voting ticket (judged not unconstitutional in 1984 by one High Court judge). The letter and intent of the Constitution are thereby seriously distorted and this is aggravated by compulsory voting, which ensures that those many who want to avoid participating in this undemocratic exercise have to choose between ALP and Coalition or vote informally.

A second Electoral Reform Inquiry is about to happen. Electoral and constitutional reform in this area is long overdue. If direct election is impractical then change the Constitution and find a system that is both democratic and practical. Australia has neither.

Klaas WoldringPearl Beach, NSW

Ken Loach's stand for Palestine commendable

I write to support Ken Loach's actions in withdrawing his film from the Melbourne International Film Festival as a protest at Israeli sponsorship of the festival.

His stand is just and morally consistent. He opposes oppression, racism, colonialism and right-wing regimes, whatever the location and guise. Such actions, in backing the boycott of the Israeli colonialist, settler state, are a positive and powerful symbol of solidarity with the Palestinian people's struggle.

Israel has dispossessed, displaced, massacred and repressed the Palestinians, and occupied their land. If this is not enough to convince some people of the true nature of the Israeli state, then perhaps Israel's choice of friends is.

Israel's closest ally in the Middle East is the Phalange Party of Lebanon, interestingly formed by Lebanese admirers of the Falange Party of Spain, the same fascist party depicted in the Ken Loach film, Land and Freedom.

This party was responsible for the massacre of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians in the refugee camps in Beirut in 1982, as well as many other atrocities. Israel provided intelligence, supplies, finance, arms and advisers to this Lebanese fascist militia. And in many instances, Israeli officers were in charge of joint operations with the Phalange troops.

Steven KatsinerisHurstbridge, Victoria

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