Following the appearance today of a story in Murdoch’s Australian about BDS, one of those interviewed, Kim Bullimore, sent me the following details of her interview with the paper’s reporter, Cameron Stewart:
Stewart (the reporter) wanted to know when was our next action. I told them Sept 9. He wanted to know if we would be picketing Max Brenner. I told him our upcoming action would once again be a non-violent peaceful rally which would highlight Israel’s human rights abuses and that we would be continuing to highlight Max Brenner and Strauss’ complicity with Israeli apartheid and occupation.[ Strauss is Max Brenner’s parent company. Strauss gives direct support to the Israeli military by providing care packages, spending money, games, books and sporting equipment to Israel’s Golani and Givati Brigades, two of the key military brigades which were active on the ground in Operation Cast Lead in 2008/2009, which resulted in the killing of more than 1300 Palestinians, including 350 children].Stewart asked if other companies had been protested against as part of the BDS campaign in Austrlaia – I pointed out that protests had been held against Israeli owned companies, Seacret and Jericho. Both companies sell Dead Sea products and while Israeli companies profit from exploiting the Dead Sea, Palestinians living under occupation and living around the area of the Dead Sea are regularly prevented access to not only their lands but also the Dead Sea because of Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies.Stewart wanted to know if there were other actions happening around the country, I pointed out that there were solidarity actions being organised in several states with those arrested and that there would also be a protest in Brisbane later this month. And I also pointed out that there had been protests in Sydney outside of MB.He asked me what I thought of Ted Lapkin (former AIJAC staffter) saying that it was hypocritical for us to protest at Max Brenner, when we oppose the blockade of Gaza! I pointed out while we are holding a non-violent peaceful demonstration which lasts for an hour or so, once a month to highlight the complicity of MB/Strauss (via their support for the Israeli military) in Israel’s human rights abuses, as well as occupation and apartheid policies, the Israeli state has been conducting a 4 long year blockade of Gaza, which ensured that medical equipment, building equipment, foods supplies etc can not get in to Gaza. To try and compare the two is hypocritical and outrageous.Stewart also asked what I thought about the fact that both sides of politics have come out and condemned the protests. I said I thought it was quite telling that both sides of politics felt the need to condemn our legitimate non-violent civil resistance (and that boycotts had long been a legitimate form of civil dissent in liberal democratic society), but did not have a word to say about Israel’s ongoing human rights abuses, Israel’s continued building of illegal settlements in violation of International law or that the fact Israel killed more than 1300 people during Operation Cast Lead, the majority of whom were civilian, including 350 children.He also asked about the ACCC being called in. Again, I pointed out that it was appalling that politicians are trying to set up investigations into a legitimate non-violent civil resistance movment but fail to say a word about Israel’s human rights abuses, occupation and apartheid policies or that it was in violation of the 4th Geneva convention and rulings by the International Court of Justice.I pointed out that non-violent civil resistance has long been a legitimate and acceptable part of liberal democratic practice. That it has been used by Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jnr, as well as many others. I pointed out that the campaign was a Palestinan initiative and that was supported by Palestinian civil society.When I raised the issue of MB/Strauss’ connect to the Israeli military, he asked me (to paraphase) “well what about the fact that there are many companies in the US who have supported the US military”. I pointed out that there has been in fact boycotts and protests around companies involved in the wars in Iraq and that non-violent civil resistance is a legitimate form of dissent.
He asked how we knew that Strauss supported the Israeli military. I pointed out that they had had the information up on their english language website but have since taken it down but it remains on their Hebrew site and this had been translated for us by Israeli activists involved in the boycott campaign. I also offered to send him a copy of the statement issued by the Israeli BDS activists in support of Australian BDS activists and he declined to have me send it to him, instead saying he could find it on the web.