Playing politics with Palestine? Perish the thought

Israel’s trusted friend in the Australian media, Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian, today publishes a piece that is so banal as to be comical. Guess what people, BDS supporters and Palestinian backers are daring to “play politics” with human rights in the Middle East. And what exactly does the Zionist lobby and Zionist propagandists in our parliaments do?

Militant unionists and political groups prosecuting the anti-Israel boycott campaign are using official union facilities and resources to encourage anti-business protests and to sell the pro-Palestinian message.

Senior Victorian union figures have admitted growing support from some affiliates and some fringe political groups for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.

It has emerged that along with key union backing, Victorian Trades Hall Council resources have been used for fundraising for the BDS campaign and to aid protesters arrested while backing the Palestinian cause.

VTHC secretary Brian Boyd would not comment on the BDS campaign yesterday.

The Baillieu government called for Labor to distance itself from the BDS campaign being waged from within sections of its industrial wing.

A Labor spokesman said yesterday the BDS campaign had “no role in a respectful and harmonious multicultural Victoria”.

“Playing politics with this issue puts at risk the diversity that all Victorians value and cherish,” the spokesman said.

But Maritime Union of Australia Victorian secretary Kevin Bracken, a former Trades Hall president, said the campaign was justified as it was a way of defending the Palestinian people.

“We support them because it’s a non-violent way of ending the oppression of the Palestinian people, the persecution by Israel,” he told The Australian.

Mr Bracken was photographed at a recent BDS protest outside the Max Brenner coffee shop in Melbourne, where the protesters accused the company of links with the Israeli defence forces. A large banner at the protest declared “Israel is a terrorist state”.

Victorian Industrial Relations Minister Richard Dalla-Riva said Labor leader Daniel Andrews had not done enough to stamp out Labor links to the BDS campaign.

“The involvement of the Labor-affiliated MUA and the Victorian Trades Hall Council in September 11 conspiracy theories, and the discriminatory, anti-Israel BDS campaign would disgust decent Victorians who belong to those unions or to the Labor Party,” he said.

“Last August, the Victorian government called on the Opposition Leader to take action against involvement and support for BDS extremism in the MUA, Victoria’s peak union body and his own parliamentary caucus. Mr Andrews did nothing, ignored the problem and the BDS campaign has continued with ongoing support from within the Victorian labour movement.”

Last month charges were dismissed against 16 BDS protesters after a rally outside the Max Brenner store in Melbourne’s QV Centre. The magistrate ruled that the protest did not threaten public order or breach the peace.

The Baillieu government is considering changing the law to make it harder to disrupt businesses when protesting.

Mr Boyd wrote on his website of the potential implications of the protest and the magistrate’s decision. He did not write that he supported the BDS but said the court decision could have significant implications for protesters.

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

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