Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Media Week - A sprinkle of BDS; Minority report

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A sprinkle of BDS

In a bizarre move, the hardcopy edition of the Daily Telegraph failed to run any coverage before or after a BDS protest on April 30 at the University of NSW against a planned Max Brenner outlet set to open on campus in June.

However, in the paper's "They Said It" section (May 1) which highlights quotes of the day, this appeared:

"‘These brigades have committed war crimes against Palestinians in Gaza and are involved in Israel's continual ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Students and staff of conscience demand that the Max Brenner be shut down! We don't want companies that endorse the apartheid state of Israel and it's apartheid practices.' A Facebook page set up by UNSW students opposes a campus chocolate shop."

The Facebook page belonged to Students for Palestine and saw some hardcore, eye-opening and vile anti-Jewish hate-speech, as reported by other media sources (including a rather ordinary AAP story on the issue on the Daily Telegraph's own website).

So it is disappointing that the hardcopy of the Daily Telegraph essentially permitted their cause to appear nobler than the boycotters' motives and actions deserved.

In contrast, kudos to the Australian (May 1) for its front page story by Christian Kerr on a YouTube video where Palestine Action Group spokesman Patrick Harrison admits that "there isn't really any connection between this Max Brenner store in particular and Israel. It's become really a kind of cultural ambassador for Israel, this store. Why do we say that it's a cultural ambassador for Israel? Well, all of the Zionists in the Australian parliament...come down to Max Brenner to show their support...and to show that Israel is in their DNA."

This is a cart before the horse argument. The "Zionists" conspicuously frequent Max Brenner coffee shops only because they are the targets for BDS protests organised by the likes of Mr Harrison!

Minority report

A Canberra Times editorial (March 29) recommended the West think twice before intervening in Syria on the side of the rebels or providing them enough assistance "to tip the balance".

The editorial recognised that "As the war has progressed, rebels have seemed to become more and more dominated by anti-Western Islamists, with the more free and democratic outcome they claim to seek actually a theocratic dictatorship probably little less oppressive than the essentially secularist Assad regime."

However, its assertion that "the Assad regime was comparatively more tolerant of Christian and Jewish minorities in cities such as Aleppo and Damascus than a militantly theocratic Islamist regime is likely to be" reads like propaganda straight from the pro-Assad songbook.

According to best estimates, the Jewish minority in Syria today comprises a grand total of 22 Jews all of whom are believed to live in Damascus! Moreover, the Assad family regime was not exactly kind to the Syrian Jewish community so that almost all members fled when they were finally permitted to leave the country in 1992.

Meanwhile, on May 2 a news brief in the Daily Telegraph on Israel's surgical air strike against one of the perpetrators of a rocket attack against Eilat on April 17 was headlined "Israel takes its revenge".

Neutralising a terrorist who helped orchestrate premeditated acts of indiscriminate violence against civilians and will likely do so again, can hardly be called "revenge".

- Allon Lee

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