Hot chocolate a cure for those who ignore history
This article was co-authored by Professor Douglas Kirsner, Ari Suss and Geoffrey Winn.
A militant campaign that singles out Israel alone in the world as worthy of boycott, divestment and sanctions has met with a surprising form of resistance. Michael Danby MP, the Member for Melbourne Ports, has been organizing these Hot Chocolate ‘sit-ins’ together with members of the ALP leadership and other public figures such as Gerard Henderson and Jana Wendt.
Gerard Henderson explained the context in his Sydney Morning Herald column Jews know acceptance still has its exceptions when he pointed to the 1930s British Fascists’ targeting and smashing up Jewish-owned shops in London’s East End.
After reading Henderson’s column, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd suggested to Danby that he join him for a hot chocolate at Max Brenner’s Melbourne CBD shop. That Max Brenner shop was the target of violent anti-Israel protest by BDS militants on July 1. The police made nineteen arrests during the violent protest.
Four of these have now been rearrested for breach of bail conditions. Similar events were repeated in Sydney and again in Melbourne, halting commerce at nearby businesses as well.
Following this, Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy and Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Senator David Feeney joined Mr Danby at Max Brenner’s South Melbourne premises.
Senator Conroy was even stronger than Mr Rudd in the Australian Government’s condemnation of what they perceived as a boycott of Jewish commerce, “I am here as a Senator of Victoria and to represent the official position of the ALP that is for the State of Israel and against the boycotts”. Senator Conroy also raised concerns regarding the boycotts : “The Gillard Government remains concerned by any groups advocating a boycott of Israeli products or services or Jewish businesses and business people like Frank Lowy and Revlon’s chairman, Ronald Perlman, who is a trustee of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre”.
Michael Danby was harshest in his comments about the BDS militants: “Let’s call a spade a spade. These people advocate a boycott of Jewish commerce. Anyone who wants to see what these people really stand for need to only look at the slogan chanted by them when they protest Max Brenner or other Israeli and Jewish shops. Their slogan From the River to the Sea is a Hamas slogan.”
These are not people who want some equitable solution to the Palestinian question with a Palestinian state alongside Israel they want a Palestinian state instead of Israel hence the slogan “from the River ( Jordan) to the Sea (Mediterranean )”.
Danby organized a third Hot Chocolate event in Marrickville in Sydney where Greens Mayor Fiona Byrne had her Council pass a motion boycotting Israeli businesses. He was joined by AWU Secretary Paul Howes, former ALP president and Indigenous activist Warren Mundine, Sydney Institute Director Gerard Henderson, former NSW Treasurer Eric Roozendahl, and author and broadcaster Jana Wendt, and comedian Sandy Gutman.
Automatic Israel critic Antony Lowenstein has of course jumped on board to defend the Green left weekly boycotters, claiming in his blog that the “peaceful” protestors have been maligned in the Murdoch press. He assailed The Australian as loving “Muslim-bombing” and The Australian journalist Cameron Stewart for his “poor journalism” because he failed to search Google to find a Max Brenner “connection” to the Israeli Defence Forces! Apparently, according to the tortured stream of “logic” by defenders of this selective boycott like Lowenstein, the Strauss Group who owns Max Brenner also owns Elite Chocolates, which provides chocolates in packages to units in the Israeli army. This is the basis for Lowenstein and others obsession with undermining chocolate shops in Newtown, Brisbane’ Southbank or the Adelaide Mall.
It is hypocritical for Lowenstein to support a boycott of Israel using the absurd leaps of logic to alleged human rights violations, when they are silent over Syria, which has this year murdered 2000 of its own civilian protestors using tanks, helicopters. This carnage barely registers on Loewenstein’s blog, most of his and the militant far lefts interests focus in how awful Israel is. Loewenstein and his fellow boycotters focuses on Israel, suggesting motives beyond the actual situation on the ground in the Middle East
Meanwhile, Victorian Government’s call for the ACCC to investigate the anti-Israel boycotts is a valuable move. Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu called the boycott campaign deeply offensive and unacceptable. “The targeting of businesses because of their religious or cultural association offends the whole community and undermines our multicultural society,” he said. Victorian Consumer Affairs Minister Michael O’Brien also voiced his serious concern. ‘‘To target businesses because they’re owned by Israelis or because they do business with Israel is entirely unacceptable and in our view sets a very, very ugly precedent,’’ Mr O’Brien said.
The success of the proposed referral to the ACC will be a matter of law, but it highlights the bigotry of the BDS movement that attacks Israel alone for alleged abuses of human rights. It must be emphasized that the protestors have not shown an equal willingness to target Australian businesses that sell goods from clearly repressive regimes including Libya and Syria, where thousands of activists have been killed this year.. These demonstrators target one country alone, and as Foreign Minister Rudd observed, it should recall for all Australians a shocking historical precedent.
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