Boycott proponents may face prosecution

August 8, 2011 by J-Wire Staff
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The Victorian Government has called in the ACCC to investigate if supporters of BDS are liable for prosecution in threatening to boycott businesses with Israeli connection.

danny lamm

Dr Danny Lamm

“The Australian” reports that the Australian Competition and Consumers Commission will consider injunction relief and damages after 19 people were arrested following an ugly clash between police and protesters outside the Max Brenner store in Melbourne’s CBD on July 1″.

Minister for Consumer Affairs Michael O’Brien has asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to examine whether BDS campaigners are in breach of Commonwealth law by engaging in secondary boycotts for the purpose of causing substantial loss or damage to Max Brenner’s business. The protesters have gathered outside Max Brenner stores on several occasions, preventing potential customers from entering the store.

The President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry  Dr Danny Lamm today said: “We applaud the Victorian Government for having the moral fibre to stand up to the immoral and illegal BDS campaign.

Whilst the right to engage in peaceful protest is sacrosanct, anyone seeking to exercise that right must do so within the law.

The local businesses which have been targeted by BDS protesters all operate in accordance with Australian law, and the protesters must do likewise.  If the protesters transgress the law, they should be punished with the same severity as any business that breaks the law.”

Dr Lamm accused the protesters of being “highly selective” about the Israeli products which they have targeted.  “The BDS organizers will call for a boycott of certain Israeli cosmetics and chocolate products.  But they wouldn’t dream of telling you not to use Windows operating systems developed by Microsoft Israel, or mobile phone technology that was refined in Israel by Motorola, or Israeli medical innovations,” Dr Lamm said.  “They are not prepared to make any personal sacrifices.  It’s a ‘Claytons’ boycott”, he concluded.  “The real agenda is to defame Israel, as their slogans reveal”.

Asked whether the ECAJ would like to see the Federal government and other State governments join with Victoria in referring the major BDS organizations to the ACCC, Dr Lamm answered, “Definitely.  A strong bipartisan voice saying ‘No’ to BDS will reflect the basic sentiment of most Australians that the bitterness and complexity of foreign conflicts should be kept out of our peaceful country”.

The Jewish Community of Victoria also expressed its support for the Victorian Coalition Government’s call for a probe into the legality of the BDS demonstrations.

John Searle

Jewish Community Council of Victoria President John Searle said: “We heartily support the call for an investigation into the demonstrators’ activities and congratulate the Minister for his good understanding of the pernicious intent of the protesters. Whilst demonstrators have the right to freedom of speech, they do not have the right to break the law, threaten someone’s livelihood and harass and vilify innocent shoppers”.

“I expect that all breaches of the law as a result of targeting certain stores in this manner and preventing the stores from trading will produce a positive response from the ACCC such that this thuggery on our streets will soon be brought to an end.”

Searle noted that in addition to the harm the protesters were causing to stores, their behaviour intimidated and harassed other shoppers and “this is something that families on a shopping trip do not want to contend with”.

“We believe that it is highly un-Australian to try to force the closure of law- abiding businesses, as is the playing out of foreign conflicts on our shores,” Searle concluded.

Their sentiments were echoed by The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council. Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein issued the following statement:

Dr Colin Rubenstein

AIJAC welcomes the decision of the Government of Victoria to ask the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to investigate whether organisations campaigning for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)  against Israel have been conducting “secondary boycotts for the purpose of causing substantial loss or damage”, in breach of section s45D of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

AIJAC applauds the decision of the Victorian Government to refer the matter to the ACCC and hopes that the businesses that have been targeted by the boycott are provided with the injunctive relief or damages to which they are entitled. We call on other Governments around Australia, state and federal, to send a clear message that Australians will not tolerate bullying, hateful and divisive tactics by following Victoria’s lead and supporting this or similar complaints to the ACCC.

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. Dr Rubenstein asserted 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.”

“A peaceful resolution in the Middle East can only be achieved through meaningful negotiations based on mutual cooperation, understanding and dialogue. This is the view of the Australian Government, as well as an overwhelming majority of the international community,” he said. “These boycotts are the very opposite of such dialogue and engagement. Anyone who hopes for Middle East peace based on two states should be standing firmly against them, including opposing them by all legal means available, as the Victorian Government has so commendably demonstrated.”


3 Responses to “Boycott proponents may face prosecution”
  1. hasbaracentral says:

    Crap. They will only shoot themselves in the foot. Ethical boycott calls have been around for a long time – remember the Jewish boycott of Nazi Germany, broken by the Zionist Anglo-Palestine Bank ? And the boycott of aparthied South Africa. Zionits are welcome to try this and this will only strengthen the cause of the BDS advocates.

  2. Paul Winter says:

    The Victorian government is to be commended for its action in calling in the ACCC to take on the lawless BDS gang. Lamm and Searle quite properly express support for the government action. BUT…(1) why did it take the government so long to act and (2) how come that with the Jewish community’s legions of lawyers, the community could not itself launch an action through the ACCC against the BDSers? Perhaps communal leaders were too busy mulling over the best way to respond to attacks on Jews by hypocritical antisemitic lawbreakers to actually do anything about rectifying the situation. For all that, the action is highly praiseworthy and, as they say, better late than never.

  3. Rday says:

    The right to protest peacefully is a human right. Is it morally wrong to prosecute those who protest based on the subject matter. You should know better, Australia.

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