O’Connell: a wake-up call to anti-Israel “social-justice activists”

January 31, 2011 by Steve Lieblich
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Last week Brendon Lee O’Connell was convicted on 6 counts of anti-Jewish harassment and vilification in the Western Australian District Court by a 12-person jury, after a 2-week trial in which the accused prominently exhibited his guilt by repeating his crime ad nauseum in the courtroom. On Monday he was sentenced to a total of 3 years imprisonment.

Brendan O'Connell with text - YouTube still

O’Connell was at a Friends of Palestine protest in May 2009, against the sale of Israeli oranges, when he harassed and taunted a Jewish student, shouting that Judaism is a “religion and race of hate” and the student is a “racist homicidal maniac”.

During the trial he compared Judaism to an organised crime syndicate, said he was proud to be associated with holocaust denier Fredrick Toben, and asserted that “Jews control the entire world”. He also referred repeatedly to a massive, well-worn volume entitled “Judaism Discovered” full of multicoloured stickers apparently marking his favourite “juicy bits”. This 1102-page antisemite’s textbook, which is banned from sale by Amazon, asserts that Judaism is a “Religion of Racism, Self-Worship, Superstition and Deceit …” His supporters claim that “Judaism is a horribly repugnant cult based on hatred of Christ, occultic doctrines, racial divisiveness, sexual barbarism, and voodoo rituals” and describe “Orthodox Judaism as the ideological survival of the most ossified traditions of Babylonian paganism, concealed beneath a complex system of dissimulation and misdirection”.

It is now clear that O’Connell’s poisonous rants and outlandish libels during the trial, and over many prior years of online antisemitic activism, were simply plagiarised from “Judaism Discovered”. It is therefore tempting to dismiss O’Connell as a narcissistic, muck-raking crackpot. However O’Connell blends ancient lies with a new type of antisemitism, parading as a “social justice” campaign. So he also exemplifies the worst aspects of this new and recent anti-Israel “BDS” (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement that has attracted support from some fringe elements in Australia. Despite its semblance of “social justice”, it actually aims to destroy the Jewish homeland and vilify Jews.

Throughout his trial O’Connell repeatedly referred to “occupied Palestine”. When the jury retired, he shouted from the dock that it would be “an honour” to be imprisoned “for Palestine and Iraq”. After the verdict was pronounced he shouted “Soon Benjamin Netanyahu will be in the dock …Free Palestine …Free Iraq!”

While it is, of course, perfectly legitimate to criticise Israel’s policies, there is a red line that separates legitimate political expression from prejudice or bigotry. Natan Sharansky’s “3D test” defines that boundary: if it DEMONISES, DE-LEGITIMISES or applies a DOUBLE STANDARD, then it’s bigotry, whether the target is Judaism, Islam, Asians or any other group.

In “BDS, Anti-Semitism’s New Face” published in Israel National News, 16 January 2011, Moshe Dann explains that “Anti-Semites around the world have found a new and more subtle form of attack: …BDS campaigns. Wielding clichés like ‘apartheid,’ ‘war crimes,’ ‘stealing Palestinian land,’ ‘oppressing Palestinians,’ and ‘end the occupation,’ these groups seek to delegitimize and isolate Israel as part of their program to destroy Israel …The goal of BDS campaigns …is not territorial, but existential.”

Bernard-Henri Lévy, a French philosopher, writes in Huffington Post, 25 January 2011 that “…we are faced here with a skilfully orchestrated but …bellicose, anti-democratic and, in a word, perfectly despicable campaign … Regardless of what its promoters and its useful idiots say, the only real, accepted, hackneyed goal of this boycott campaign is to de-legitimize Israel…”

Levi also notes that the BDS movement doesn’t boycott Sudan, which is guilty of genocide in Darfur, nor China, guilty of massive violations of human rights in Tibet and elsewhere, nor Iran, nor those despotic Arab regimes whose citizens’ have no freedom of expression.

Omar Barghouti, a founder of the “BDS”movement, has made it clear that his goal is “not two States but two Palestines.”  Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada and BDS leader, equates Israel to Nazi Germany, conveniently ignoring the fact that it was the Palestinian Arab leadership in the 1930’s and 1940’s who were allies of the Nazi regime.  And Sabeel, an Arab Christian group, provides a “theological” fig leaf by reviving the antisemitic concept that Christians replace the Christ-killing Jews as the Chosen People. (It’s interesting to note that extremist Islamists now apply their version of this Replacement Theology to Jews, Christians and other “infidels”.)

So the BDS movement fails the 3D test on all three counts. It DEMONISES Jews as “the new Nazis”; it DE-LEGITIMISES the Jewish nation; and by incessantly targeting open, democratic Israel for censure while ignoring many blatant human-rights abusers, it applies a DOUBE STANDARD.

As Michael Danby, Member for Melbourne Ports recently said: “What is next for [the BDS campaign]?  Are they now going to paint the Star of David on shops selling Israeli products?”

Seen in this light, the O’Connell phenomenon should be a wake-up call to the small bands of earnest-looking, anti-Israel “social-justice activists” that occasionally pop up in supermarkets and shopping malls. Whether these useful idiots are misguided, ignorant, just plain antisemitic, or some combination of them all, they promote neither peace nor the welfare of their purported “friends” in the Middle East. They are merely fostering and encouraging more crackpot criminal behaviour, like O’Connell’s.

Comments

10 Responses to “O’Connell: a wake-up call to anti-Israel “social-justice activists””
  1. Mannstein says:

    The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions sounds like a great organization.

    How can one sign up?

  2. Ed says:

    Whether he is anti-Semite or not is irrelevant. The mad didn’t assault anyone, didn’t incite violence why should he even be charged because he doesn’t have politically correct thoughts or beliefs?

    I’m American and I was shocked when I read this story. Three years in jail for disagreeing with someone.

    This actually has the opposite affect. Expect a backlash as people come out to defend this young man.

  3. Sandy says:

    The Marrickville councillors who voted to boycott Israel ARE fringe elements, and should be exposed as such.

  4. Rueven Oren says:

    Every generation will have it’s threat, if it happens or not, Megillah Esther, and the Hagodar both say this. As I say if they are going to attack you for being Jewish by your genetics you may as well be Jewish by lifestyle. It easy for a mentally disturbed person to be a racist, but it is not easy to make a stand against them. For this reason I salute the Australian Government for taking a stand, arresting and imprisioning this low life.

  5. “Many rabbis and professionals have told me recently that they fear for their jobs should they even begin to articulate their doubts about Israeli policy–much less give explicit support to calls for an end to the occupation.”

    — Rabbi Michael Lerner
    April 28, 2002 in the Los Angeles Times

  6. Larry Stillman says:

    O please, spare us equating the views of a nut case with everyone who is critical of Israel, including people in the BDS movementl. An extraordinarily simplistic and dangerous analysis confusing the right to free speech with the actions of disturbed people.

    I hope jwire offers a right of reply.

  7. Rita says:

    GOOD ONE!!! Hopefully a start and not only a one-off!!!

    “…So he also exemplifies the worst aspects of this new and recent anti-Israel “BDS” (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement that has attracted support from some fringe elements in Australia. Despite its semblance of “social justice”, it actually aims to destroy the Jewish homeland and vilify Jews….”

    Unfortunately the virulently anti-Semitic Marrickville Council is not a fringe element and should follow this unpaletable guy into the dock!

    “…Whether these useful idiots are misguided, ignorant, just plain antisemitic, or some combination of them all, they promote neither peace nor the welfare of their purported “friends” in the Middle East. They are merely fostering and encouraging more crackpot criminal behaviour, like O’Connell’s….

    I agree with the Jewish-Anerican talk-show host Barry Farber, to was quoted as saying:

    ” When the consequences of incompetence (ignorance,cowardice et al) become indistinguishable from the consequences of malice, it is wiser and safer to assume malice.”

  8. David says:

    Why only 3 years, it should have been 3 years on each count.

  9. Daryl says:

    This is a very frightening development. One that reaffirms our restrictions on the right to free speech and the right to expression here in Australia.

    While I don’t agree with what was said (don’t throw me in jail…!!) I think we need to be more strident about people having the right to express themselves in this country.

    Was there any incitement to violence here? or just the vigorous and confrontational statement of an opposing point of view?

    I lived for a while in Arab countries. I know what Israel is faced with and feel that most the world doesn’t understand this. But that is absolutely no reason at all to limit the right to free speech in Australia.

    Next I will be hauled to prison for expressing my contempt of child brides of forced marriage around Muslims…

  10. To try and sear the BDS campaigners as anti-Semites is intellectually lazy. Are you calling Jeff Halper, Yonatan Shapira and Anna Baltzer anti-Semites?

    It must be remembered that human beings in Gaza are facing their own BDS campaign instigated by Israel with the complicity of autocratic Egypt. The siege on Gaza had been going for almost a decade – severe deprivation on imports and exports and freedom of movement – with the extra burden of being at the mercy of a foreign airforce, navy and army that can reek substantial damage at will. That is not to support Hamas, but it is to remind us that Palestinians suffer because of the actions of a few and the suffering is nothing compared with an international BDS campaign on Israel. The BDS campaign on Israel is more symbolic than punitive. It is a reminder that Israel as a friend needs to set a good example about how others are treated. If Israel cannot get it right who are we to expect China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia or Indonesia to get it right.

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