About 300 activists protested in Melbourne on September 9 against chocolate company Max Brenner’s sponsorship of elite Israeli military units, as part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS) against Israeli apartheid in Palestine.
Indigenous rights activist Robbie Thorpe told the rally: “Every struggle we see is about human life, their struggle is the same as ours because this is illegally occupied land too.”
Trade unionist Dave Kerin said: “The only right solution is democratic, equal representation of all inhabitants of Palestine.”
He noted the politicised nature of the police and legal response to the protests. “The rally held by pro-Zionists outside Max Brenner was not only condoned, but supported by the state and police, now if you compare to the 19 pro-Palestine activists who were arrested for staging a peaceful demonstration, it seems like one set of rules for one group and a different set of rules for another,” he said.
In Sydney on September 10, about 70 protesters marched down the King Street coffee-shop strip to protest at Max Brenner’s Newtown outlet. Outside the shop, a pro-Israel counter-protest of roughly the same size had assembled.
A large proportion of the pro-Israel protesters had t-shirts and placards identifying them with the far-right Australian Protectionist Party (APP), causing the anti-protesters to chant to “Max Brenner, you can’t hide; You’ve got fascists on your side”.
The APP is a fascist group. As Overland editor Jeff Sparrow wrote on the ABC’s Drum on September 9: “The APP was formed by Mark Wilson, a former organiser of the fascist British National Party, who emigrated to Australia in the 1980s. One of the APP’s most active members is Nicholas Hunter-Folkes. He was formerly the administrator of a charming Facebook group called 'Fuck off, we’re full'.”
Ironically, slanderous accusations of fascism have been hurled at the BDS movement by Labor and Coalition politicians and the mainstream media, on the basis that to be opposed to Israeli apartheid is to be anti-Jewish.
Two Jewish speakers at the Newtown BDS protest rejected Israel’s claim to represent all Jews.
Fascists have always promoted, in extreme form, whatever form of racism is predominant and in Western countries today that is Islamophobia.
It is not surprising that Israel, a militaristic and racist Western outpost in the Middle East, is now supported by most of Europe’s fascist groups, even those with a history of anti-Semitism.
Sparrow wrote: “In France, for instance, the Front National has gone through a generational change, with Jean-Marie Le Pen making way for his daughter, Marine Le Pen. He was an old-school anti-Semite and Holocaust denier; she tells the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that her organisation has ‘always been Zionistic’, as she orients her group to a wave of French Islamophobia.”
Meanwhile, on September 2, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) ruled that “the ACCC considers that this protest activity does not contravene section 45D of the CCA”.
On August 8, Victorian minister for consumer affairs Michael O'Brien requested the ACCC investigate the Maritime Union of Australia, Geelong Trades Hall Council, Green Left Weekly, Australians for Palestine and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign over whether the protests contravened the Competition and Consumer Act.