Crackdown on Free Speech and BDS Political Protest in Australia

Australia’s ruling elite really don’t like having their Israeli Occupation latte spoiled by truth. The use of lawfare by the Israeli regime and its supporters to counteract BDS protest is yet another sign that BDS is working. These present repressive measures against BDS activists are likely to have the reverse effect than intended by those who support Israeli occupation and apartheid.

Ian Curr at Workers Bush Telegraph comments:

Such arrests which seek to deprive people of the right to freely go where they wish and to express their opinions freely escalates a legal question into a political act by police & government.

I have viewed the YouTube video of the protest at Max Brenner and there is no evidence of a blockade of customers or an act which prevents people from buying chocolates or coffee at the store.

The protesters actions were symbolic.

So for the police and/or courts to apply such restrictions using the bail act may itself be unlawful. This should be tested by civil liberties lawyers in court immediately especially if people have been refused bail and jailed while awaiting trial.

A broad-based international movement of people of conscience in support of human rights and justice , BDS is the call from Palestinian people themselves for equal rights, the end of apartheid and the recognition of their rights to return to their lands. All these demands are soundly grounded in international law.

Max Brenner, the operation which is being protested by BDS supporters, is owned by the Strauss group, which shamelessly aids the brutal Israeli military occupation and thus the deprivation of rights from Palestinian people.

The assault against BDS by the Australian elite is unlikely to succeed since it may criminalise consumer boycotts generally, which would prove unacceptable to a large proportion of the Australian community.

‘Greens MP Greg Barber said that if the investigation results in a prosecution it could have a chilling effect on other consumer boycott campaigns.

”I’m telling people to boycott Reflex Paper because it’s made from native forest woodchips, so maybe I’ll be next,” Mr Barber said.

But Mr Barber said he expected the investigation to fall over.

”For that matter a ‘Buy Australia’ campaign can fall foul of it, so Mr O’Brien might not get the result he’s looking for,” he said.

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Victorian Consumer Affairs Minister Michael O’Brien attempts to erode our democracy

The Victorian Consumer Affairs Minister Michael O’Brien has named our organisation amongst
others for investigation by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) for
what he called our involvement in ‘secondary boycotts’ against Israeli-owned businesses in
Australia – namely Max Brenner.

For the record, Australians for Palestine took no part in the protests against the Max Brenner
stores, but we believe that Max Brenner and other Israeli owned businesses that support
violations of human rights are legitimate targets for the boycott call.
The boycotts target Israeli-owned institutions and businesses that have been instrumental in
supporting Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law and not “Jewish businesses”, as
Mr O’Brien alludes to in his comment to The Australian (8/8/2011).

“Minister O’Brien wants us to slowly erode our democracy and roll back our rights to freedom of
political thought, affiliation and freedom of protest” said Ms. Sabawi, Public Advocate for
Australians for Palestine. “This draconian move does not bode well for Australians to see our
government trying to intimidate its citizens who are critical of the actions of a foreign state.”

“Mr. Obrien needs to be reminded that taxpayer money should be spent on safeguarding our
democratic rights and values and not to be wasted on the pursuit of appeasing foreign powers and
special interest lobby groups at the expense of our own rights and liberties.” said Ms Sabawi

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MEDIA RELEASE Tuesday 9 August

BAILLIEU GOVERNMENT ESCALATES ATTACKS ON CIVIL LIBERTIES

Dawn raids see pro-Palestine activists arrested

Police demand activists be held in custody for weeks

Raids carried out at dawn this morning by police have seen several pro-Palestine activists arrested, in the most severe crack-down on civil liberties in decades. The activists are being targeted because of their involvement in protests against chocolate shop Max Brenner, a chain store with strong ties to the Israeli military. The protests are part of the worldwide Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign, which aims to draw attention to the ongoing genocide committed by the Apartheid regime in Israel against Palestinians.

Campaign organiser Omar Hassan:

“This crack-down on the right to protest should be of concern to all Victorians. The lengths to which the Baillieu government is going to eradicate criticism of Israeli Apartheid and criminalise dissent are unprecedented. We need to be clearly saying; demonstrating is not a crime. Taking action in support of Palestine is not a crime.”

The activists were arrested for breaching bail conditions imposed following arrests at a previous pro-Palestine protest at Max Brenner. The bail conditions, which prohibit arrestees going within 50 metres of a Max Brenner shop, are themselves a serious curtailment on the right to protest. The arrestees have been told they will be held until September the 5th.

As Hassan points out:

“Actions taken against South African businesses by anti-Apartheid protests were important in generating opposition to that racist regime. To outlaw similar actions today can only be motivated by a desire to protect the reputation of Israel, and represent an unacceptable attack on our right to express dissent and show solidarity with oppressed people around the world.”

For more information about the arrests and on-going BDS campaign, contact:

Omar Hassan: 0421185037

Louise O’Shea: 0420819419

Or go to http://boycottisrael19.wordpress.com/

UPDATE 11/8/11

Australian zionist organisations coordinate with politicians and police in pushing the hasbara agenda of Israel against BDS.

Arguing against any Zionist-organized BDS “counter” protest, Alhadeff writes: “It is important for the community to be aware that our response to BDS forms part of [a] coordinated national strategy. Furthermore, this strategy is endorsed by counterparts abroad and Israel’s Foreign Ministry.”

Alhadeff outlined this coordinated national strategy in response to BDS, stating that it “included, but is not limited to, engagement with civil society and politicians, patronage of boycotted outlets, cooperation with police, shop owners and center managers and exposure of the motives behind the BDS movement.” According to Alhadeff, Zionist policy in response to BDS should be one which seeks to “speak softly” but to also carry “a suggestion of a big stick.”

Why does Australia always vote against UN resolutions supporting the Palestinian people? Why did Labor get rid of Rudd, since Gillard is just the same or worse? Why didn’t Senator Mark Arbib lose his job, when he was outed as a US intelligence source?

Julia Gillard set to reject Kevin Rudd on Palestine
Has Rudd or Gillard even bothered to read the call to BDS?

Rudd stance a ‘surprise’ to the ziolobby

Israeli fascism blooming : Israeli military prosecutor demands banishment of Palestinian minor
Israeli ministers demand preemptive action against Palestinians before September

Related Links

ACCC probes anti-Israel boycotts

‘The ACCC will investigate whether the protesters contravened section 45D of the Competition and Consumer Act, which prohibits a group from gathering with the intention of stopping a third person or company from doing business.

Until now, it has only been used to target trade union activity, but Melbourne University competition law professor Dr Caron Beaton-Wells said protesters might have a case to answer if protesters ”had the purpose or their actions had the effect of causing substantial loss and damage to the shop owner’s business”.

Consumer watchdog asked to investigate Israel boycott

‘”This is an attempt by the Government to criminalise any protest against Max Brenner or other corporations that support the state of Israel, and support their offensive towards the Palestinian people, and in particular their support for funding for the Israeli military, which is the point of the protests.”‘

Green Left Weekly rejects attempt to silence Palestine supporters

‘Munckton said: “The attempt to equate supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign with anti-Semitism — in particular the campaign in Nazi Germany to boycott Jewish-owned businesses — is entirely unfounded.

“BDS campaign is a global campaign supporting justice for the Palestinian people. It does not target any company on the basis of religion or ethnicity.

“Even a cursory glance at the statements of organisations supporting BDS show that no business is targetted for being Jewish-owned.

“O’Brien’s threat is an attempt to silence those who support the rights of Palestinians. This is an attack on the rights of free speech.”’

When will Kevin Rudd bother to read the call to BDS and stop casting wrongly as anti-jewish?

‘The Australian on Monday reported that Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd recently met with Jewish Victorian federal Labor MP Michael Danby at the same Max Brenner store as the BDS protest.

“I don’t think in 21st-century Australia there is a place for the attempted boycott of a Jewish business,” Rudd was quoted as saying. “I thought we had learned that from history.”

“According to a statement put out by AIJAC, the BDS movement has been targeting businesses in Australia for no reason other than their perceived relationship with Israel.

“They have included cafes, skincare product stores and other companies with little or no political influence or direct involvement in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict,” the statement said.

Rubenstein said that “such discriminatory practices have no place in Australian society and, moreover, will only serve to intensify the Palestinian- Israeli conflict by promoting division and hatred.”

Defending BDS activists to speak out against the crimes of the Zionist state
On the International Day of World’s Indigenous People, remember theongoing crimes of settler colonialists in Australia, US, Israel and Canada.

Israeli boycotts: ACCC called in

Palestine / Israel Links

Ni’lin continues with strong will despite Israeli raids
Israel arrests third actor in refugee theatre group
How Palestinian Authority’s UN “statehood” bid endangers Palestinian rights
Selling weapons of war is not ethically, politically, nor economically sustainable.
Protest leaders present their vision for social justice in Israel
From last month, “Michael Danby MP the new chairman of Australia’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd today shared a hot chocolate at Max Brenner’s CBD shop in solidarity with Israel and the Australian Jewish Community”

London Riots

Arab spring protesters back UK rioters in their fight for new trainers
Tariq Ali:

‘Why is it that the same areas always erupt first, whatever the cause? Pure accident? Might it have something to do with race and class and institutionalised poverty and the sheer grimness of everyday life? The coalition politicians (including new New Labour, who might well sign up to a national government if the recession continues apace) with their petrified ideologies can’t say that because all three parties are equally responsible for the crisis. They made the mess.

They privilege the wealthy. They let it be known that judges and magistrates should set an example by giving punitive sentences to protesters found with peashooters. They never seriously question why no policeman is ever prosecuted for the 1000-plus deaths in custody since 1990. ‘

Excessive policing in Europe and the United States shows that governments are resorting to ever more coercive measures in order to save their neoliberal project
What next to tackle the riots? Curfew? Water cannon? The army?
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