The Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment campaign became a focal point for passionate debate over the last two days as it reared its head in both the Australian Senate and Victorian Parliament.
First, the Greens maintained their 100 per cent success rate of refusing to vote in favour of any resolutions condemning boycotts of Israeli-owned or affiliated companies.
Yesterday, on August 18, the Senate passed a motion, moved by veteran Queensland Nationals Senator Ron Boswell and supported by Labor, Liberals, Nationals and Independent Nick Xenophon and DLP member John Madigan, which stated:
That the Senate-
(a) condemns certain extremist groups and individuals and their calls for a boycott of the Israeli confectionery company ̳Max Brenner‘ and all other Israeli companies that manufacture and sell products to and within Israel, as part of the Global Boycott Divestments and Sanctions, banning any links with Israeli organisations or organisations that support Israel and prohibiting any academic, government, sporting or cultural exchanges with Israel;
(b) acknowledges that Israel is a legitimate and democratic state and a good friend of Australia;
(c) recognises the right of the company Max Brenner to operate in Australia as a lawful and legitimate business, which should be able to operate unhindered and without persecution;
(d) denounces the boycott of this business and any other business engaging in free and lawful trade with the state of Israel; and
(e) calls on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to investigate any secondary boycotts being imposed on Max Brenner confectionery stores.
As this story from the Australian explains, the motion was passed without a call by the Greens for a formal division, but with a declaration of their opposition to it.
In a press release, Senator Boswell lambasted the Greens for both opposing the motion and the manner in which they did so:
Labor, the Independents and the Coalition supported the motion leaving the Greens to oppose. The Greens today showed their true colours (Red) when their leader, Senator Brown stood up and requested that their opposition be noted rather than calling a division.
When confronted with the motion the Greens knew that they could not afford to be seen to support such a blatantly anti-Semitic and unlawful boycott, but privately they do.
The Greens were trying to fly under the radar and are ashamed of their actions or they would have divided.
Since the new Senators have arrived the party has moved further and further to the left neglecting their environmental agenda. The environment is playing second fiddle to the socialist alliance agenda.
By opposing the resolution the Greens are now defending extreme left groups, the Green Left Weekly magazine, Geelong Trade Hall, Australians for Palestine, and the Palestine Solidarity Society. These groups were all reported as being involved in the boycott and picketing of the Israeli store, Max Brenner.
The actions of these groups and the refusal of the Greens to condemn them, is un-Australian and has no place in this country and should sound a warning to all those who vote for the Greens who believe them to be a benign cuddly environmental party and somewhere safe to park your vote.
On the previous day in the House of Representatives, Eden-Monaro Labor MP Mike Kelly denounced the local BDS campaign in a passionate speech extolling the lessons Australians today can learn from the late Nancy Wake.
I would like to come back again before I finish to talk about the lessons she brings home to me today and why they are so relevant today. She stood up in the face of the brutality that was being exhibited towards the Jewish population of Germany, the boycotts of their businesses et cetera.
In this country today we are facing similar actions in this insidious-let me call it what it is-anti-Semitic boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign being run by certain sections of our community and supported by certain sections of certain political parties.
This is the most disgusting, despicable campaign I think I have witnessed in recent times.
… campaigns like ‘Let Palestine be free from the Jordan to the sea’ are not on about the two-state solution; they are on about eliminating the state of Israel, another six million Jews on whose behalf we need to exercise due diligence and campaign for their survival against this insidious campaign.
… I vigorously condemn not only the engagement in these activities but also the hypocrisy of these people. Where have these people been in relation to what is going on in Syria? Hundreds of people are being massacred, tortured and brutalised daily. What about Libya? What about Egypt? What about Tunisia? What about Somalia, Iran-where those people cry out for support and recognition-or North Korea, with massive daily violations of human rights? Where are these people? Where is their BDS campaign in relation to these issues?
When we are talking about Israel, we are talking about the only democracy in the Middle East with a strong civil society, with separation of powers, with a Supreme Court that regularly rules in equity and fairness on the issues of the day in that country.
… Finally, I would call upon [Greens leader] Senator Brown to exercise some control or intervention now, particularly in relation to the New South Wales branch of his party, which is running off on this agenda dictated by elements of the Socialist Alliance and moving well away from their environmental concerns of the past by supporting this disgusting anti-Semitic campaign. I would call on Senator Brown to intervene in the New South Wales branch and bring that party back to its priority concerns in relation to legitimate issues on the environment.
In tribute to Nancy Wake today, I hope that this generation of Australians will be as forthright in standing up to be counted against the forces of evil as she was.
The Victorian Parliament was no less boisterous in discussing in the BDS issue, as this story in the Age summarises.
A LABOR backbencher played a key role in an aggressive campaign targeting businesses with links to Israel that has been strongly criticised by Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews.
The Baillieu government has seized on Bronwyn Halfpenny’s involvement in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign when she was a member of Trades Hall Council.
A motion passed by the union peak body last September – before Ms Halfpenny had entered Parliament – backed the campaign threatening stores with Israeli ownership or connections, with the now Labor MP agreeing to report back regularly to the union on the progress of the boycott.
The motion shows that Ms Halfpenny, referred to as ”Sis Halfpenny”, would ”provide reports to Executive Council at six-monthly intervals” on the effectiveness of the campaign.
When the government raised the Trades Hall position in Parliament yesterday it created uproar, with Labor accusing the government of undermining a bipartisan approach to multicultural issues. The stoush ended with MPs screaming at each other across the floor and Labor frontbencher James Merlino being suspended from Parliament for the day.
In the Victorian Parliament and speaking to the Age after yesterday’s proceedings, Victorian Labor leader Daniel Andrews reaffirmed his party’s opposition to the BDS movement:
”The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign has no role in a respectful and harmonious multicultural Victoria,” Mr Andrews said. ”I am, and have always been, opposed to this campaign. Playing politics with this issue puts at risk the diversity that all Victorians value and cherish.”
As this blog has previously noted, the Victorian Government’s call for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to investigate the BDS campaign in Australia has received bipartisan support from the Labor Opposition, which AIJAC has commended.
Meanwhile, Canadian online magazine, The Propagandist, has run Associate Professor of History Jim Wald’s brilliant takedown of the BDS campaign, focussing in-depth on Australian BDSer efforts to boycott Max Brenner.
Wald notes that Brenner is being targeted because its parent company:
Strauss, the parent company of both Sabra hummus and Brenner, has occasionally made charitable donations of food and recreational equipment to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). As I’ve said elsewhere, this is tantamount to boycotting companies that send “care packages” to US units in Iraq and Afghanistan, some of which have likewise been charged with misdeeds while serving in wars that some critics regard as intrinsically unjust or illegal.
The absurdity of the boycott is even more pronounced, Wald notes, when the selectivity of it bangs up hard against the limited knowledge of the BDSers.
Even when the activists take aim at seemingly more serious targets, the attempt blows up in their faces. A prime foe is Motorola (1, 2), charged, among other things, with providing the IDF with mobile communication equipment.
The irony that the violent Jihadis on the Gaza Flotilla’s “Mavi Marmara” last year used Motorola devices to coordinate their resistance to IDF commandos apparently escapes the BDS adherents. Perhaps those Flotilla “activists” were just as clueless as the pitiful survivors of Hurricane Katrina who foolishly accepted $ 1.5 million in Motorola relief efforts.
There’s even more gold in Wald’s analysis and to fully appreciate it, CLICK HERE.