The inevitable inequitable application of proposed laws

August 4, 2021 by David Cumin
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Ben & Jerry’s decision to stop selling ice cream in Jewish communities in the West Bank has caused ripples – and may be a breach of US laws that prohibit discriminatory boycotts.

Dr David Cumin

It is noteworthy that many other democratic countries have also recognised the discriminatory nature of singling out Israel/Jews for boycott and have enacted laws that prohibit such practice.

An interesting thought experiment is to consider whether the proposed “incitement to discriminate” law that is being considered by our government may see people advocating for BDS face criminal charges.

It would be a relatively simple thought experiment if we were all equal. However, antisemitism and anti-Israel discrimination seem to be treated differently from other forms of hate or discrimination.

We know, for example, that Labour and Green MPs who are members of online groups that spread Holocaust denial and glorify terror against Israel face no condemnation. The Green Party has tried to justify their MPs chant for Palestine “from the river to the sea”. And when a Kiwi openly supports Hamas and Hezbollah violence [at an anti-terror conference, no less] there is no word of opposition from our officials or leaders.

The Guardians of the New Zealand Super Fund decision is another example – they seem quite content to fund businesses linked to slave labour, despotic regimes, and other ‘occupations’ yet divest from Israeli banks.

We have been unable to identify the authors of the flawed ‘justification document’ used by the Guardians, but documents we’ve obtained under Official Information Act requests show that the primary source of information for the report that came from outside the organisation was from John Minto. The Guardians also wrote to Mr Minto at about the same time they wrote to the Minister of Finance to inform him of the decision.

We have also just found out that the Human Rights Commission (HRC) flew Roger Fowler down to Christchurch to meet with Paul Hunt and John Minto. Subsequently, Prof Hunt enthusiastically told Mr Minto that he would be consulted on the HRC document about antisemitism.

While our government agencies are intent on siding with these people, there is little hope that any anti-discrimination laws will be applied equally. We will continue to expose these issues and fight for the truth.

Dr David Cumin is co-director of the Israel Institute of New Zealand, among other roles.

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