More than 150 people protested at Parramatta town hall on November 15, calling for a boycott of Max Brenner chocolate shops and an end to Israel's recent attacks on Gaza.
The rally was part of the worldwide campaign for boycott, divestments and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Max Brenner's parent company, the Israeli Strauss Group, donates care packages of chocolates to Israeli commandos of the Golani and Givati brigades.
Max Brenner stores have been the site of protests in Sydney and Melbourne. Nineteen protesters were arrested last year for "besetting" the Max Brenner store in QV Square, Melbourne, and for trespass in a public place. The charges were dismissed on July 23.
The rally heard from Ray Jackson, President of the Indigenous Social Justice Assocation; Sylvia Hale, former Greens MLC; As’ad Awashra, a Palestinian exchange student from Ramallah at the University of Sydney; Haskell Musry, a member of Jews Against the Occupation; and Marlene Carrasco, Bankstown campus chair of the University of Western Sydney student association.
The protesters marched from Parramatta Town Hall to the Max Brenner store located in the nearby Westfield shopping centre, where they confronted about 30 counter-demonstrators who held anti-Islam signs and Australian flags.
Two male counter-demonstrators wore niqabs and dresses in an attempt to provoke the pro-Palestine protesters. There were no incidents of violence.
Westfield co-founder Frank Lowy is a long-time supporter of Israel. He joined the Haganah, the Jewish militia in Palestine, in 1945. He served for two years before joining the Golani Brigade and taking part in al-Nakba (Arabic for “the catastrophe”), where he was wounded during the attack on Sajra. Lowy moved to Australia in 1952.
The rally voted to hold another demonstration on November 24 and held an organising meeting to plan details. It will take place at Sydney town hall at 12 noon.