Danby critical of Brenner protesters’ defence lawyer

July 29, 2012 by J-Wire
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riminal defence lawyer Rob Stary’s self-congratulation on his successful defence of his clients’ rights to protest in his opinion piece in the Herald-Sun  (”Peaceful Protestors Justified ) ventured into wider issues of foreign policy and history, far from his narrow sphere of expertise. 

Michael Danby

The media-savvy lawyer should be more cautious before he next ventures into social and political commentary.

Stary defended persons charged with offences related to last year’s demonstrations outside the Max Brenner chocolate shop in Melbourne’s QV precinct.

The first Max Brenner chocolate shop was established in Israel in 1996 by Oded Brenner.  The business expanded and in 2001 it was amalgamated with the Israeli-owned food/confectionary group the Strauss Group.

The Australian Max Brenner shops are not owned by the Strauss Group.  They are Australian businesses operating under a licence.

In his article, Stary claims his clients had demonstrated against “Israeli armed aggression”, and that the Max Brenner parent company supported Israel’s “military operations in the Gaza Strip and West Bank”.

Notwithstanding that the Strauss Group is not “the parent company” of the QV Max Brenner shop, it is instructive, for argument’s sake, to consider what the Strauss Group does.

If you think that it must be an arms manufacturer or corporate war profiteer, you would be wrong. The Strauss Group gives care packages to the Israeli soldiers. And yes, chocolate too. Like Australians, Israelis support their soldiers.

By this logic, we can expect protestors against the war in Afghanistan screaming outside the Kellogg factory because it supplies cornflakes to the Australian army. As Australian Workers Union national secretary Paul Howes said, it would be similarly inappropriate to demonstrate against a policy of the Australian Government outside an RM Williams store.

Stary strays well beyond his legal brief to lecture Herald Sun readers on the dangers of totalitarianism, as though his clients’ right to protest is all that stands between our democracy and, as he writes, the return of Stalinist Russia.

It really demeans the oppression of millions tortured in Soviet era Labor camps or similar numbers in Chinese or North Korean slave labor prisons to compare a bunch of extreme left socialist alternative protesters trying to demonise an Australian business, with victims of totalitarianism.

What then of the rights of a lawful business to undertake its trade, or patrons to buy chocolates without being confronted by accusations of Israeli apartheid and chants of “Brenner, come off it, there’s blood in your hot chocolate?” Does Stary believe these actions resonate with any reasonable Australian?

One of the problems with these radical fringe groups is that they push the boundaries as to what is acceptable protest in a democratic society and end up damaging the very rights and freedoms they rely on.

Because of the disruption, offence and economic loss that can be caused by such protests, the community starts to cry out for greater protection of the rights and interests of affected individuals and businesses.

Bob Brown certainly thought better than to defend the boycotters, and even the Reverend Jim Barr, president of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, denounced their tactics.

Izzat Abdulhadi, the Palestinian Authority representative in Canberra and even the Greens political Party more generally have dissociated themselves from the boycott/pickets of the Max Brenner chocolate shops.

Kevin Rudd, Stephen Conroy, Paul Howes and Wayne Swan joined me for a Brenner’s hot chocolate in public affirmations across Australia.

Rudd said: “I am here because I object to the boycotting of Jewish businesses”.

The parallels between the present-day boycotters of Brenner chocolate shops and the Nazi-era boycotts of Jewish commerce are too obvious to mention. As Jana Wendt said of her abhorrence of the Brenner boycott, “we can’t afford to ignore the lessons of history”.

Whilst Stary and his clients may have had a small victory in the courts on strict legal grounds, that in no way reflects on the validity and rightness of the boycotters’ cause.

Boycotting chocolate shops may seem ridiculous – and it is in one sense – but the intention is to stop these businesses from trading, and that’s not a ridiculous matter.


4 Responses to “Danby critical of Brenner protesters’ defence lawyer”
  1. Sabra says:

    Thank you Michael Danby for expressing the points clearly and factually. I only fear not enough people will read this posting .. let alone the people that matter. How can we get this message out there where it will really make a difference?

  2. Lynne Newington says:

    Well, you had support from those mentioned, that validation speaks for itself.
    I’m surprised Mr Stary took that stance, being a criminal lawyer, the protesters must have believed they had committed a crime to engage him in the first place.

  3. Michael says:

    Rob Stary the go -to lawyer for the Muslim community has represented and acted as a cheer leader for notorious anti- Semites and convicted Islamic terrorists supporters Hicks and Jihad Jack Thomas as well as other accused Islamists.
    Stary in an interview published in the Herald Sun parroted Palestinian propaganda. Is Stary a Muslim advocate or a lawyer or both ?


  4. Robert says:

    The Socialist Alternative are using these near riot demonstrations to gain publicity and influence amongst radical leftists especially on campuses.
    They love mindlessly shouting slogans.

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