J-Wire joins BDS protest

October 13, 2012 by Michelle Coleman
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Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) protesters tried a new tactic at a demonstration in Melbourne’s CBD yesterday. But the new approach failed to make the impact they had hoped for. Michelle Coleman was at the heart of the action.

It’s Friday afternoon and the working day is over. As people stream out of buildings to start their journeys home, few notice the unimpressive total of five members of Students for Palestine dressed in green red and white (the colours of the Palestinian flag) standing outside the State Library of Victoria.
By contrast, there is a sizeable police presence. I ask a VicPol member who is on duty why he is there. He tells me that there is a demonstration “about the Apartheid in Palestine”. It seems that to this officer at least, apartheid taking place in ‘Palestine’ is a given.
I gingerly approach one of the organisers of the demonstration – Louise is her name – and strike up a conversation. Her eagerness to befriend me, particularly when I tell her that I haven’t protested before but came along out of a sense of unease about events in the Middle East, gives me the distinct impression that newcomers to the BDS cause are few and far between.
Louise asks me if I have ever been to Palestine. I lie. It turns out that neither has she, although she is quick to portray herself as an expert on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Louise gives me no facts, rather resorting to the standard emotive claim that “Israel is an Apartheid state” and that what is occurring there (she doesn’t actually specify what) is “terrible”.
I am tempted to tell Louise that as an ex-South African, I know first-hand about Apartheid, while she displays her ignorance. I nod my head in agreement and say nothing; although I am trying not to blow my cover, I cannot bring myself to say anything against the country I love so much.
Louise hands me a song sheet, telling me that they will be trying something different at this protest. The words are about as corny as they can get:  instead of “we will, we will rock you”, we are expected to sing “we will boycott Israel”.
The plan is to head into Melbourne Central shopping centre (all six of us now, thanks to me boosting the numbers), sit down at tables in the central food court and, with a signal from their leader, stand up and sing the song. Louise tells me very candidly that they have decided to change to this flash mob tactic because their previous method was not increasing support for their cause.
When we get to the food court, I notice that there are around 30 other activists sitting there waiting. I decline Louise’s invitation to sit with them, telling her that I want to stand back so I can see better.
As they begin to sing, I notice that quite a few shoppers and commuters stop to watch, wondering what it’s all about. I hear one observer shout “yeah, go for it” but I don’t see anybody join in.
At the end of the song, one of the activists begins to speak. Despite my close proximity, I cannot make out what she is saying as the megaphone quality is so poor. The group then heads down the escalators to another area of the centre, shouting their usual slogans: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, “Free, free Palestine” and “Intifada, Intifada”. I am astounded that these well-meaning yet misguided students would actually call out in support of terrorism and the murder of innocent civilians, men, women and children alike; then I remind myself that just as they have no clue what apartheid was about, they are as ignorant about the intifada.
I note that, while Israeli chocolatier Max Brenner is mentioned when another activist speaks, they do not target his store nor do they resort to their much maligned slogan, “Max Brenner, come off it; there’s blood in your hot chocolate”. They have clearly learned that this approach wins them no friends.
One group of activists hangs a Palestinian flag over some railings in the shopping centre. Although I am not sure why this is somehow more offensive than their other activities, police quickly get them to remove it.
The protest continues with more singing and slogan shouting, but still the mass of support fails to materialise. I almost feel sorry for Louise, but then I remember something she told me earlier: “I may not make much of a difference but at least I know I tried”.
But what about the genuinely oppressed in the likes of Iran and Syria? That’s not her problem. Louise will sleep well that night, satisfied that she has done her bit for the ‘poor’ Palestinians.


21 Responses to “J-Wire joins BDS protest”
  1. michael says:

    Thanks Sara,Therein lies the problem with Palestinian supporters like your self , life is short so to heck with the long boring facts like I have introduced , just regurgitated Palestinian lies and propaganda.
    We all know if you repeat a lie enough times people usually uninformed people start to believe it, The Palestinian lobby and their Jewish’ useful idiots ‘ followers have surely done a great job of this.

    However I think your comments about Hamas ‘in your 2009 op- ed in the Sydney Morning Herald


    ”Hamas is not a terrorist organization, but the legitimate, democratically elected government of the Palestinian Authority.”

    tells us something about your blind support for the Palestinians Sara, no doubt if you were a German in 1938 you would be also be arguing The Nazi party is our elected legitimate government so the International community should accept them as so.

    You are right Shirlee waste of time debating with these types who would gladly accept Israel as a state overrun by Muslims and the Jews as a minority.

    Michael Burd

    • Shirlee. says:


      We can but keep trying and one day, who knows, maybe the penny will drop.

      I can’t see how they can’t see that it’s the Arabs who don’t want peace. Goodness only know they could have had many times. According to Abbas too. In his own words

      “It was a mistake to reject the Jewish State in 1947.
      It is a mistake to reject the Jewish State now!
      It was our mistake
      It was an Arab mistake as a whole”

  2. Sara Dowse says:

    Apparently I’ve stirred a hornet’s nest. Rather than spend time arguing the toss on every point Michael raises (I could but life is short) I will simply refer correpondents to Ahad Ha’am 1891 essay ‘The Truth of Eretz Israel’. Food for thought. As for Adrian Relandi I find his views interesting but not persuasive. Many Palestinians were and are Christian. Not all were Bedouin.

  3. michael says:

    Can you please answer some questions for me ?

    On November 29 th 1947 the UN adopted a resolution declaring Israel an Independent state , even your country Australia voted for this resolution. Yes or No ?

    Do you accept UN resolution 181 declaring Israel a state is valid .?

    Notwithstanding the Arabs were not happy about the UN Vote are you condoning the onslaught by the Arabs the day after and the endless wars up until today?

    Do you agree if the Arabs had accepted the umpires decision we would not be in the position we see today between Israel and the Arabs?

    Sara If the Palestinians were in fact there before the Jews were granted their state what was their language, what was their official currency , what was their flag?

    • Shirlee. says:


      I don’t think these people want to see the truth. I don’t think they could if it hit them in the face.

      I typed a huge reply last night to Sara and then deleted it, as I couldn’t see the point of it.

      I would like her to check out this link though, to a book


      Palestina by Hadriani Relandi — its original professional name Palaestina, ex monumentis veteribus illustrata, published by Trajecti Batavorum: Ex Libraria G. Brodelet, 1714.

      “Most of the land was empty, desolate, and the inhabitants few in number and mostly concentrate in the towns Jerusalem, Acco, Tzfat, Jaffa, Tiberius and Gaza. Most of the inhabitants were Jews and the rest Christians. There were few Muslims, mostly nomad Bedouins. Nablus, known as Shchem, was exceptional, where approximately 120 people, members of the Muslim Natsha family and approximately 70 Shomronites, lived. ”

      Another too “Innocents Abroad” by Mark Twain, written if I my memory serves me correct in the middle of the 19th century. It is available as a free download

      Both of these give a good account as to the makeup of the population

  4. Sara Dowse says:

    Shirlee, do you honestly believe that? No wonder there’s no peace in our time. These comments are getting very ugly. The Palestinian Arabs were a majority. My people were there too.

    • Shirlee. says:

      What in heaven’s name is ugly about what I wrote? Want ugly? Try a few pro-Palestinian sites I read. There’s ugliness in all its glory

      Do I believe what? What are you talking about.?

      If you can’t see they don’t want peace, then you have issues. The chance has been there repeatedly and each time it has been refused.

      Maybe you should see the videos released daily from PAL TV if you think they want peace,

      Check out this link


      The song, called On the way to Jerusalem, mentions cities and places all over Israel, but declares them “Palestinian.” This is a clear example of the PA’s policy to present a world in which Israel does not exist and is replaced by “Palestine.”

      Since Palestinian Media Watch first reported on the song in May 2011, it has appeared nearly once a month on PA TV.

      PA TV has broadcast another song with a similar message numerous times:
      “I am returning to you, oh land. From Rafah to Rosh Hanikra (northern Israel) our coast, and Beit Shean (Israeli city)… From Haifa (Israeli city) and Tantura to the [Jordan] valley (i.e., all of Israel). I am returning to you, the purest land, oh land of the free.”

      This song was performed in front of PA Chairman Abbas and other senior PA officials at a Fatah event in 2011. Since then, PA TV has broadcast it more than 30 times.

      PA TV is directly controlled by the office of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

      The following are the words of the song On the way to Jerusalem:

      “Jaffa, Acre, Haifa, and Nazareth are ours.
      [ I ], Muhammad, sing about the Galilee and the Golan (Heights).
      Jaffa, Acre, Haifa and Nazareth are ours.
      [ I ], Kabha, sing about the Galilee and the Golan (Heights).
      From Bethlehem to Jenin is Palestinian,
      Ramle, Lod and Sakhnin are Palestinian.
      Nowhere is more beautiful than Jerusalem;
      no matter how much we travel
      From Safed to Al-Badhan (near Nablus) is Palestinian;
      Tiberias and Ashkelon are Palestinian.”
      [PA TV (Fatah), May 13, 2011 and June 24, July 14, July 15 (twice),
      Aug. 20, Sept. 2, 2011, and again Jan. 5, 8, Feb. 25, March 19,
      April 6, July 27, Aug. 3, 10, 23, and Oct. 5, 2012

  5. michael says:

    MIke the so alleged Palestinian suffering is of their own making, If their Arab brothers and sisters would have accepted the umpires decision back in ’48 they may have had their own place of abode.
    Mike Move on we are all sick and tired about the whinging Palestinians, let their very Oil rich brothers and sisters look after them instead of building palaces , 5 star hotels and supplying terrorists funding.


  6. Mike says:

    So brave of you, Michelle. You’re such a trooper. As simple and unhelpful as the arguments these people make, I can’t help but notice your own mood and judgement. High horse much? Are you really that much better?

    Is there only one reasonable point of view? Are you so quick to delegitimise Palestinian suffering? Can you not see it with your own eyes? Blame whoever you want — undoubtedly the Palestinian Authority and the Arab countries contribute heavily to the problems Palestinians face, but, so does Israel, as every nation on the planet recognizes — but do not discount their suffering.

    Taking such a one-sided view of things — only slightly better than that of those protesting — is extremely unhelpful. If you want really to contribute to the longevity of the Jewish-democratic state how about living up the values of two states for two peoples? Your rhetoric here, with your oh-so colourful language, undermines trust does nothing forgot end game. Unless, of course, you don’t care about two-states. You may say you do, but going by your harsh judgement and flagrant disregard for the situation of Palestinians, I think it may just be lip service.

    • Shirlee. says:

      Kol HaKavod Michelle


      Ignore ignoramuses like the one above. He needs to learn to read.

    • Vicki says:

      Now Mike I think hat was very harsh. You seem well able to dish out the rhetoric yourself. And, further, display the same ignorance as the BDS crowed as well. The fact is – and it is a well recorded and recognised fact – that the Palestinians have no one to blame for their current situation but themselves. Arafat was offered everything he wanted at Camp David II: a right-of-return for the Palestinian descendents of refugees, Jerusalem as his capital, etc. But instead of taking the deal, he incited his people to a blood-soaked intifada instead. The result of which was to bring suffering to his own people. And how has that changed now? Israel eases its sanctions, while the Palestinians still push for a one-state solution, devoid of Jews.

      • Shirlee. says:

        I’m glad you said that Vicki.I’m getting sick and tired with people of his ilk. Also sick and tired of commenting.

        Maybe Mike would like to see the map of Israel, whoops Palestine, that I bought in the Old City, which is literally “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” ….of Jews.

        Remember Mike Article 80 of the UN Charter implicitly recognises the “Mandate for Palestine” of the League of Nations.

        This Mandate granted Jews the irrevocable right to settle anywhere in Palestine, the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, a right unaltered in international law and valid to this day. Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria (i.e. the West Bank), Gaza and the whole of Jerusalem are legal.

        • Sara says:

          But not to the detriment of the people already living there, Shirlee. You need to mention that too about the Mandate.

          • Shirlee. says:

            That goes without saying, though in saying that, the Arab population at the time was very small. Most of the Arabs in Gaza, West Bank and Israel came from Egypt when the Jewish people made the desert bloom.

            How do I know this?

            My father was there at the time and census records show it.

    • EthanP says:

      Vicki, Shirlee: Mike is one of those whose anti-semitism needs an outlet. There can be (IMHO) little doubt that the majority of the BDSers are, for political reasons, anti-Israel and anti-semitic. Yet unless you are a far right neanderthal or radical Islamist, you cannot come right out and and admit this. They are too PC for that. But BDS “seems” to be aimed only at punishing Israel over “Palestinian” oppression. But, my friends, be certain that these people would oppose Israel, (the worlds ONLY Jewish majority state) even if there were an independant Palestinian state.

      I would also point out that Israeli Muslims are the freeist in the Islamic world. And with the exception of the Arab oil princes, the most prosperous in the Arab world!

  7. michael says:

    Well done Michelle, for your efforts . The same can not be said of our Jewish activists or rather non activists.
    The Palestinian lobby have ‘ Students for Palestine’ working along side Socialist Alternative and some extremist Anti- Zionist Jews with weekly demonstrations ,hosting speakers and other forms of activism that gets the media’s attention as well as the attention of grass roots Australian public . Unfortunately Israel has no one representing their cause on the front line, demonstrations and at the Universities.
    How ever that is partly because our Jewish students have no leadership when it comes to counter demonstrations or taking pro- active activism on a regular basis because our leadership believe in ” not giving Oxygen’ or in in other words turning the other cheek as an excuse to do nothing.
    Clearly judging by who is winning the PR war the Jewish strategy of doing nothing is not working and if it were a Public company heads would roll for their failure in achieving their goals.
    The SZC /ZFA should start a student wing of dedicated pro- Active activists who should emulate the Students for Palestine group who work tirelessly for their cause i.e demonizing Israel and Jews .
    It is obvious AUJS are not up for the Job.

  8. phil says:

    Red and Green are the colours of the mighty bunnies!!
    South Sydney Rabbitohs!!!!

    Glory Glory
    Am I confused ?

    • Vicki says:

      You are such a trickster Phil! Allow me to add to the fun: my granny had a little ditty about colour coordinating your clothes that went “Red and green should never be seen”. I think this is a more fitting reply than “Glory Glory”, don’t you?

      But seriously, if Louise did travel to “apartheid” Israel, she would no doubt have an experience similar to mine when I recently boarded a bus at Tel Aviv Central Bus Station and as the bus filed, a young Muslim girl sat next to me; I crossed the street a Jerusalem Central Bus Station and took a taxi to HaHistadrut Street with a man who was born in Bethlehem, but moved to Jerusalem to live with the other half of the family. He was looking forward to his day off the next day, when he planned on going to his Arab friend’s house in Yaffa and to the beach. When I got to my hotel, the clerk called Mohammad to help me take my suitcase up two flights of stairs (thank you Mohammad). The very next thing I did was get changed and go down to Yaffa Street were a Muslim woman elbowed me out of the way so she could get in the shop before me. So this is “apartheid” Israel!

      • Shirlee. says:

        Yes Vicki I also recently witnessed apartheid Israel when I sat opposite to young hijabed women in Maccas on TA beach, when I sat in a taxi chatting with the Arab driver just inside the Old City and when I spoke the Arab who was painting my nephew’s apartment

      • Shirlee. says:


        The saying was ‘blue and green should never be seen’

        Look it up

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