This ain’t pretty. As the BDS movement grows in Australia – the hysteria in the corporate media and political elites suggest panic stations – it’s important to understand what those opposed to full Palestinian rights are arguing. Sydney journalist Kate Auburn attended a rally last weekend in Sydney and documented the following. Note the paranoia, mis-information, Nazi comparisons and inability to even accept that Palestine exists:
The first person I approached was the man I’d spoken with before the rally. He had been pulling down BDS rally posters near the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre and a passerby asked him what he was doing, he was soon yelling at the passerby and BDS rally goers who had gathered. He wasn’t so keen to explain why he was counter-protesting however, simply telling me, “There are a lot of people who could say it more clearly than I would.”
I did have luck elsewhere however.
Person in plain clothes: I’m a Holocaust survivor, I was raised in Poland, I was born in Poland before the war. In Poland my parents were exposed to a lot of anti-Semitism and they were forced out of their village in Poland. Fortunately, we emigrated to Australia. Australia is my home. I love it. And these demonstrators, what they are chanting, for me, is offensive, they are chanting things like there is blood in my chocolate. Blood in my chocolate refers to, it’s um, it’s a blood libel that the Nazis used to justify the massacre of 6 million Jews. Blood in my chocolate refers to Christian children’s blood that the Nazis said the Jews used to make their food, which is really abhorrent to me, and it’s vile. What they want is for Israel not to exist. They are chanting the Hamas mantra. The Hamas mantra is that Israel would no longer be a Jewish state, which means that the Jews that live in Israel would be subject to another genocide. My people have already been subject to a genocide. And Max Brenner has nothing to do with it, they have a very tenuous relationship with the Strauss Group in Israel. It’s so tenuous you can compare it to McDonalds and America. I think they are a bunch of anarchists and trouble-rousers.
Now into the thick of the Australian Protection Party front-line:
Woman in Australian flag bandana: I’m here to support Max Brenner. I’m here with my friend today, I’m not a member of the APP (Australian Protectionist Party). Max Brenner supplies the Israel Defense Army [sic] with chocolate and stuff …
Me: So that would be a good thing?
Woman in Australian flag bandana: Yeah. It is. There’s no such thing as Palestine.
Woman’s APP friend [pointing at BDS rally]: It’s very ignorant. Uneducated. This business is paying Australian taxes. He’s employing Australian people, paying his taxes, doing the right thing.
And over to the “I love Max Brenner” crew stood beside the APP:
Me: Do you want to tell me why you’re here today?
Man in “I love Max Brenner” tshirt: Yeah. Because hate towards Israel is growing right across the Western world, not only the Middle East, ok? And if you let it grow like that, without standing up against that trend you’re going to have a repeat of history. I believe if you talk to these people over the other side of the road here individually you’ll find they are grossly ignorant of the facts. They don’t know Middle Eastern history, they don’t even know the history of the West. They’re over there because somebody has told them things that they haven’t examined themselves and uh, they think maybe they are doing the right thing in what they are doing but it’s going to… all it’s going to produce is what we’ve had in the past.
Me: What should happen to Palestine?
Him: Well. They’re yelling out over there ‘Free Palestine’, well, ok, free it from Hamas. You know, read the Hamas charter, the Hamas charter is a foundational document for the Palestinian people at the moment. They voted Hamas in. Have you read the Hamas charter? I’ve read it. And when I read… within there I see a hatred and something that will feed hatred against a people called the Jews and a state called Israel. And it’s obvious to see if you look in the Middle East, what is the free country in the Middle East? What country has freedom of speech, freedom of association?
[few seconds of indecipherable comments due to loud chanting]
I think this. If someone is firing rockets at me, almost daily, and if someone has a charter that says the Israelis must be obliterated, literally, that’s what it says, it quotes Hasan al-Banna in the Hamas Charter, and it says that Israel must be obliterated, not we want our own separate state –
Me: So is the current situation the best way to resolve that?
Him: I don’t understand your question.
Me: Settlement expansion in the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza.
Second man, interjecting: How old are you?
Second man: I’m a bit older. I’m coming close to 60. That land wasn’t Palestine before. It was Jordan, Jordan, they never claimed to get freedom for Jordan, they never claimed to get freedom for them, but when its the Israelis they say ‘yes it’s my land’ [a couple of seconds indecipherable] it’s all bullshit, it’s never been occupied, it’s been occupied by Jordan [indecipherable] it’s all propaganda, I was born there, I’ve been in two wars.
Me: Where were you born?
Second man: I was born in Israel, my dear, I’ve been in two wars. It was occupied by Jordan, they have Jordanians, not Palestinians. It’s been disputed over the last century.
Me: Ok so are you guys going to keep coming back to these protests?
Second man: This is a free country, they can’t come and do this, this is ridiculous. I don’t know why they do this, they’re idiots.
And back to the plain clothed folk. This young woman approached me asking if she could explain why she was there:
Young woman in plain clothes: This situation is a mess, it’s a real mess.
Me: What situation, the rallies, Israel-Palestine?
Young woman: The rallies, the Middle East. We’re not going to solve problems by fighting and screaming at each other across the street. We need to build bridges and stop fighting. I think both sides have a just claim to the land and both sides need to make concessions. I think the Israelis should share Jerusalem, because the Palestinians have a claim to that land. The Palestinians need to let go of the right of return. And I think that can happen. But basically, both sides are being stubborn and they are both digging their heels in and preventing peace. So yeah, we just need to not hate each other so much, and here in Australia there is no reason to hate.
Me: Did you come on purpose today or were you just walking by?
Young woman: No, I came on purpose.
Me: To, which one?
Young woman: Uh. I believe, I, well. Well I’m a Jew. I believe Israel has the right to exist where it is, I believe that there should be a two-state solution. I believe that Israel should withdraw from the settlements that in the two-state solution won’t fall into Israel, because I mean, the place is going to get divided. Some of the settlements will become Palestinian territory and some will become Israeli. I think they should stop building for the moment while they are trying to make peace.