A letter to Jake

June 14, 2013 by  
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A Tel Aviv-based civil rights group warned Australian supporters of a proposed boycott against Israel on Thursday that their activities were racist, and in violation of Australian Federal anti-discrimination laws. Recently, faculty and students at Sydney University called for the severing of links with Israeli institutions.

Associate Professor Jake Lynch

Associate Professor Jake Lynch

In letters sent to Associate Professor Jake Lynch, Professor Stuart Rees and others, Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center threatened to take legal action if they did not immediately discontinue their boycott campaign.

Andrew Hamilton

Andrew Hamilton

This past semester, the university’s student body endorsed Associate Professor Jake Lynch’s academic boycott of Israel. Lynch had publicly announced his refusal to work with Dan Avnon, an Israeli professor from the prestigious Hebrew University in Jerusalem, which promotes Israeli-Arab coexistence, and also called for a boycott of Technion University in Haifa.

Professors’ Lynch and Rees’ actions, although widely condemned by mainstream politicians and community figures, have also been supported by NSW Labor MP Lynda Voltz and Mary Kostakidis.

According to NSW Solicitor Andrew Hamilton of Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has been recognized as anti-Semitic by leading authorities such as Anti-Defamation League in the United States, and in a report recently released by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

In the letters Hamilton pointed out that the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975 made it “unlawful for a person to do any act involving a distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, …  national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of any human right or fundamental freedom in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.”

Hamilton also warned that any “successful” boycott of Israel was illegal under the Competition and Consumer Act of 2010 if they damage the businesses they target, and that as a result parties could be investigated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and face legal action for damages.

“Lynch, Rees, Voltz and others like them seek to impose restrictions on those having Israeli and Jewish national, racial or ethnic origins, whether these are goods, services, persons and organizations. The participants of the BDS movement clearly seek to violate freedoms guaranteed by Federal law,” Hamilton said

Hamilton added out that “these individuals act with the clear purpose of nullifying or impairing the recognition and equal footing of those persons and organizations whom they seek to boycott, divest from and sanction.”

Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center is an organization dedicated to enforcing basic human rights through the legal system and represents victims of terrorism in courtrooms around the world. Its clients include American, European, and Israeli citizens. It is a fully independent non-profit organization, unaffiliated with any political party or governmental body.

 

The letter/…

Associate Professor Jake Lynch
Director, Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies Mackie Building K01
University of Sydney, NSW 2006
By email: jake.lynch@sydney.edu.au

Re: Participation in unlawful BDS movement activities.

Dear Sir,

Shurat HaDin—The Israel Law Center, an organisation dedicated to enforcing basic human rights through the legal system, represents victims of terrorism and other illegal anti-semitic activity in courtrooms around the world. Shurat HaDin was founded on the model of the Alabama based Southern Poverty Law Center – a non-profit legal center that over the last four decades has successfully confronted and shut down racist groups (such as the Ku Klux Klan) across America.

It has come to our attention that you and your organisation, the Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies, have participated in and/or publicly supported the global movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel and Israeli related business, academic and cultural persons and organisations (BDS movement or BDSM). In particular you have supported racist anti-semitic BDSM activity at Sydney University. See: http://www.bdsmovement.net/2013/sydney-university- student-representative-council-passes-bds-motion-10961

We wish to put you on notice that BDSM activity is unlawful in Australia and may be the subject of civil, administrative and criminal legal action against you.

A. BDSM activity is unlawful Racial Discrimination
BDSM activity is unlawful under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) which provides (section :)9

It is unlawful for a person to do any act involving a distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of any human right or fundamental freedom in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

The BDSM, by its very definition, seeks to make distinctions between, impose restrictions on and imposes an adverse preferences based on the Israeli national origin of goods, services, persons and organisations. It also in effect makes a distinction between, imposes restrictions on and imposes adverse preference based Jewish racial and ethnic origin and the Israeli ethnic origin.

Participants in the BDSM do these BDSM related acts with the clear purpose and actual effect (where their BDSM actions are successful) of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of the human rights and/or fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural fields of those persons and organisations whom they seek to boycott, divest from and sanction.

Racist BDSM activities consisting merely of speech, including advertising for and inciting unlawful BDSM activity, are expressly prohibited under sections 16 & 17 of the Racial Discrimination Act. There is no general constitutional protection of free speech in Australia and BDSM racist hate speech is not legitimate free speech in any case.

BDSM activities are unlawful even if the ostensible reason for the BDSM acts are supposed support of the Palestinian cause. Section 18 of the Racial Discrimination Act provides that:

If:

(a) an act is done for 2 or more reasons; and

(b) one of the reasons is the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of a person (whether or not it is the dominant reason or a substantial reason for doing the act);
then, for the purposes of this Part, the act is taken to be done because of the person’s race, colour or national or ethnic origin.

Finally, your employers can be held vicariously liable for your racist, anti-semitic BDSM activity. See section 18A of the Racial Discrimination Act.

1. The BDSM engages in racist hate speech

A call for an economic, cultural or academic boycott of Israel or Israeli organisations is one of the worst forms of harmful speech because it is a deliberate and malicious attempt to harm Israeli Jews.

It is clear that economic, cultural and academic boycotts are harmful to their targets and Jews have suffered particularly from such boycotts as a result of anti-semitism throughout history. Such boycotts were some of the first laws passed against Jews by the German Nazi regime prior to the Holocaust.

Moreover, the persons calling for such boycotts are well aware and indeed intend to harm Jewish and Israeli persons and organisations. They are aware that their actions in targeting of privately held Jewish businesses, cultural organisations or academics have had no effect on Israeli government policies (which are determined by democratic elections) but instead turn their frustration at this towards redoubling their efforts to harm Jews.

2. The BDSM is hypocritical and does not assist the Palestinian cause

The BDSM is hypocritical and not really directed at legitimate support of the Palestinian cause at all.

Thus even the ostensible, potentially lawful reason for the BDSM is false. Analysis of the actual actions and activities of the BDSM shows this clearly.

The BDSM uses the internet and modern communications methods to regularly target vulnerable Jewish or Israeli owned businesses with no political influence while continuing to make extensive use of the Israeli developed technology products embodied in all today’s computers, smartphones, tablets and the global internet.

The Israeli companies heavily targeted by the BDSM include Max Brenner (cafes & chocolate), Ahava (beauty products), Sodastream (soft drink machines), Seacret (beauty products), Sabra Humous & Eden Springs (bottled water).

Clearly none of these companies have any significant political activities or influence that can justify a call to boycott them being characterised as political activity or support for Palestinians as BDSM activists assert. Indeed the actual activities of the BDSM protesters calling for and actively boycotting Israeli businesses are often laden with overt anti-semitism.

These consumer economic boycotts are also extremely selective and hypocritical in targeting relatively small, vulnerable, low tech Israeli companies whose contribution to Israel’s exports is very small while not only ignoring, but actively using the high tech products developed and / or produced in Israel by Intel, Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, Sandisk, Hewlett Packard and many other Israeli companies that are essential to the modern high-tech lifestyle.

Given the huge dominance of high tech in Israel’s exports, calls to boycott Israeli low tech delivered by means of Israeli high tech can never be effective on a macro scale in damaging the Israeli economy and thus influencing government policy. Such calls can only serve to hurt vulnerable Israeli companies with no real political influence.

Cultural boycotts of Israel, organised by the BDSM, have consisted of attempts to deprive the Israeli public of overseas performers who were planning to tour Israel by harassing performers who have announced concert dates and Israeli cultural groups which tour other countries. It is difficult to see how depriving Israeli fans of a particular non-Israeli singer of the ability to hear that singer in concert in Israel has any real political impact or message other than anti-semitism. There is no evidence that such boycotts cause the victims to adopt the political messages of their persecutors and indeed one would expect the opposite to be the case.

Academic boycotts attempt to sever ties between Israeli universities (who are often leaders in their field) and local universities or prevent Israeli academics from lecturing. Not only does this damage the local institution as much, if not more than the Israeli one, but it delivers no political message other than anti-semitism. Often the academics and institutions boycotted have the most left leaning “pro-Palestinian” outlook of any in Israeli society. Boycotting the Israeli’s most aligned with the BDSM’s supposed support of the Palestinian cause simply sends the anti-semitic message that all Israeli Jews are to be attacked, no matter what their political position.

Moreover, boycotts of “settlement products” harm Palestinian economic interests. The Israeli factories located in areas which the BDSM falsely considers occupied (and which was actually allocated for Jewish settlement under the binding international treaty – The Palestine Mandate 1922) employ many Palestinian workers and provide an important source of income for local Palestinian families and villages. Attempts to boycott these businesses even if “successful” in the eyes of the BDSM, will merely cause those businesses to close the factories employing Palestinians and move them to areas where they will employ only Israeli citizens or perhaps to cheaper employment markets in Asia. How exactly does replacing a Palestinian worker with an Israeli, Chinese or Indian one advance the Palestinian cause?

Thus any suggestion that a calls for economic, cultural and academic boycotts of Israeli organisations is legitimate political expression is exposed as patently false. It is instead a call for collective punishment of convenient and vulnerable Israeli targets who have nothing to do with the political issues which the persons calling for the boycott ostensibly support.

3. BDSM activity is disguised anti-semitism

The real reason for all BDSM activity is disguised anti-semitism.
Indeed the targeting of people or organisations for harm simply because they are Jewish is the classic definition of anti-semitism.

Calling for boycotts of Israel and Israeli organisations, as practiced by the BDSM have recently been found to be anti-semitic by two of the most well respected international organisations expert in anti-semitism, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Abe Foxman, National Director of the United States ADL has published full page advertisements in US newspapers stating that “The BDS movement at its very core is anti-semitic.” These statements by the ADL demonstrate that calls for boycotts of Israel are not legitimate speech even in the United States, let alone countries with greater protections against harmful speech such as Australia.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has recently published a 40 page report under the title “Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) Against Israel: An Anti-Semitic, Anti-Peace Poison Pill”. The report states that the BDSM “presents itself as a pro-peace initiative but in reality is a thinly-veiled, anti- Israel, anti-Semitic ‘poison pill,’ whose goal is the demonization, delegitimization, and ultimate demise of the Jewish State.” The report demonstrates how calls to boycott organisations solely because of their connection to Israel matches Natan Sharansky’s “three Ds” test for when legitimate criticism crosses the line into anti-Semitism.

4. Proposed Legal Action

If you do not cease your BDSM related activity immediately Shurat HaDin may commence legal action against you without further notice.
In particular, in addition to the remedies available under the Part IIB of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986, the cooperative nature of the unlawful actions BDSM allows Shurat HaDin to bring a civil conspiracy action against participants in the BDSM. Such action will include a substantial claim for damages.

B. Any “successful” BDSM boycott is illegal under the Competition and Consumer Act
In addition to being unlawful under anti-discrimination law, boycotts of the type advanced by the BDSM are also illegal under section 45D of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) if they are successful in damaging the businesses they target or are likely to be successful. This section provides:

(1) In the circumstances specified in subsection (3) or (4), a person must not, in concert with a second person, engage in conduct:

(a) that hinders or prevents:
(i) a third person supplying goods or services to a fourth person (who is not an employer of the first person or the second person); or
(ii) a third person acquiring goods or services from a fourth person (who is not an employer of the first person or the second person); and

(b) that is engaged in for the purpose, and would have or be likely to have the effect, of causing substantial loss or damage to the business of the fourth person.

(2) A person is taken to engage in conduct for a purpose mentioned in subsection (1) if the person engages in the conduct for purposes that include that purpose.
(3) Subsection(1) applies if the fourth person is a corporation.
(4) Subsection(1) also applies if:

(a) the third person is a corporation and the fourth person is not a corporation; and

(b) the conduct would have or be likely to have the effect of causing substantial loss or damage to the business of the third person.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in investigating complaints regarding alleged breach of this section by members of the BDSM in the Max Brenner case found that all the substantive requirements for breach of this section were made out, except the requirement for substantial loss or damage.

Thus if any BDSM boycott activity is “successful” in the causing loss or damage to a Jewish or Israeli business then participants in it will be liable to legal action by the ACCC or private parties for damages.

Shurat HaDin requires you to immediately cease all BDSM related activity and provide written notice to Shurat HaDin of this within 14 days. Failure to do so may lead to legal action being brought against you without further notice.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Hamilton Solicitor, NSW

Comments

3 Responses to “A letter to Jake”
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    Shurat HaDin has been made necessary through the rampant rise of anti-Semitism and the push for extinction of the State of Israel by people such as you, Ben E, and the gathering of the clans internationally of all kind and sundry in the name of the cause of the Palestinians. The push for this extinction is attempted by all kinds of hypocritical and ill-informed actions, such as the BDS campaigns. None of you are interested in viewing the whole, or considering full realities; just full steam ahead feeding a fantasy that day by day you are striving to turn into a truth. Call it a hardline Zionist front, ben E – that’s not offensive. It needs to be a hardline Zionist front for the survival of the Jewish people in Israel. Zionist is not a dirty word – fundamentally it means Israel as a homeland for the Jews.

  2. ben E says:

    The agency is a hardline Zionist front. It sees no racism in expanding settlements and displacing Palestinians and imposing military law on Palestinians while the Jewish settlers can live under civil law. This is nothing more than an impotent gesture at intimidation and will be laughed out of court. If the agecny is serious about its warning let it try the global BDS movement in the ICJ or domestic courts.

  3. Paul says:

    The BDS campaign is really nothing new. Many Jews from all around the world have been discreetly boycotting German made products for decades. It just a way of remonstrating ones displeasure.

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