Memo to Murdoch hacks; supporting Palestine is legitimate so deal with it

In what is becoming a daily obsession by Murdoch’s Australian newspaper, today sees yet more articles comparing BDS for Palestinian rights akin to Nazi Germany, the 9/11 attacks and extremism. First the “news” story:

Victorian unions have voted to embroil the ACTU in a controversial campaign targeting Israeli-owned businesses.

This came as the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions campaign gained a reprieve late yesterday when the corporate watchdog rejected sanctions against the activists.

The Victorian Trades Hall Council has further embarrassed the Labor Party on the issue by passing another motion backing the global BDS protests.

The motion came despite bitter opposition to the campaign from the highest levels of the Gillard government and from many state Labor MPs across Australia.

Despite this, the VTHC executive council voted last week to intensify its campaign by seeking to join with the ACTU to confront the Gillard government about any moves to have any industrial or political disputes investigated by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission.

Labor was saved some embarrassment late yesterday when the ACCC decided against invoking secondary boycott penalties against the anti-Israel activists on the grounds that the campaign “does not have the effect or likely effect of causing substantial loss or damage” to the shops facing protests. But it left open the option of action if the protests intensified and it warned it would be monitoring proceedings.

The ACCC’s decision will be seen as a big victory by the pro-Palestinian campaign, but Victorian Consumer Affairs Minister Michael O’Brien cautioned against triumphalism.

“It is outrageous for Trades Hall to seek the Gillard government to interfere with the ACCC in order to protect potentially illegal secondary boycotts against Victorian businesses,” he said.

The Weekend Australian established yesterday that Acting Foreign Minister Craig Emerson also wrote to the ACCC on August 19, just days after the Baillieu government sought injunctive relief to curb the pro-Palestinian campaign.

The ACTU said it had not received notice of the Trades Hall motion. The BDS campaign has targeted the Israeli-owned Max Brenner chocolate and coffee shop chain, with one protest in Melbourne leading to 19 arrests.

A series of pro-Palestinian rallies are planned across Australia in the run-up to September 11, including a rally in Sydney’s Newtown on September 10. This Sunday, the Victorian Young Liberals and several MPs will oppose BDS at a Melbourne protest.

The editorial, headlined “Philistines for Palestine“, once again alleges people loudly backing Palestinian rights are no different to rampaging Nazis in the 1930s. The comparison is both (almost) comical but in reality utterly demeaning to the Holocaust. The message is clear; being “pro-Israel” means being polite to Zionism. Otherwise, you’re a Nazi. Of course, nobody mentions the occupation or why so many global citizens are embracing BDS:

A few weeks ago it was a chocolate shop in Melbourne, targeted by pro-Palestinian activists because it is part of an Israeli chain. On Thursday night it was the Royal Albert Hall in London, where about 30 demonstrators disrupted a Proms concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. So noisy were they that the BBC had to interrupt its coverage twice, although the orchestra, under the baton of one of the world’s leading conductors, Zubin Mehta, kept on and managed to play all four pieces on the program, including Max Bruch’s violin concerto No 1 in G Minor.

It may be that music calms the savage beast, but some of the most sublime music in the civilised world could not tame the brutish, selfish arrogance of an ill-mannered, unrepresentative minority. Their action represents a dark moment in public culture and civility and does nothing to further their cause. We have said before that, given the history of Nazi Germany, there is something deeply offensive about targeting Jewish businesses. That is equally the case for these latest attacks on an Israeli orchestra that adds to the extraordinary contribution Jewish musicians and composers have made to classical music. The terrible events of May 1933, when more than 25,000 books were burnt on huge public bonfires in Berlin, were directed at Jewish intellectuals and the culture they had helped build in Germany. That night, and the cultural “cleansing” that followed, remains a deeply distressing reminder of the collapse of the basic values that must underpin a civilised society. To see culture, which should be above partisan politics, attacked as it was in London is alarming. That it should happen at the Proms, perhaps the world’s best-known classical music festival, dating back to 1895 and with broad appeal, is doubly upsetting. The Proms represent the tolerance and inclusion that are the best hope for world peace.

If we were a British newspaper, we would be urging readers to patronise the Albert Hall at every opportunity. Instead, we suggest you frequent the Max Brenner chocolate shop chain and take a stand against the appalling campaign being waged against Israel. The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is misguided and counterproductive. The protesters have a right to express their views on Israel, but they lose respect and influence when they engage in such crude and uncivilised action.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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