01 May 2013

BDS: unthinking prejudice - not boycott

From: The Australian, May 02, 2013, by Christian Kerr:     
A KEY supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement has been caught on camera admitting "there isn't really any connection" between Australian Max Brenner chocolate shops and Israel.
Palestine Action Group spokesman Patrick Harrison made the admission in a video of a BDS protest last November at the Max Brenner outlet in Parramatta, in Sydney's west, posted recently on YouTube by a graduate filmmaker.
Promotional material for the protest claimed: "Max Brenner is an ongoing target of the BDS campaign for its support for Israel and the Israeli Defence Forces..."
But Mr Harrison appears in the video saying: "Max Brenner itself is a franchise. So financially speaking there isn't really any connection between this Max Brenner store in particular and Israel. It's become really a kind of cultural ambassador for Israel, this store..."
Mr Harrison did not respond to calls from The Australian yesterday.
A Max Brenner spokeswoman confirmed the local operations were wholly Australian owned. "Its sole shareholders are a young Australian couple," the spokeswoman said. "
The company was established more than 13 years ago, in 2000, and has the franchise rights to Max Brenner in Australia."
The spokeswoman said the Strauss Group bought the International Max Brenner brand in 2001, after the establishment of Max Brenner Australia. "Max Brenner International thus became part of the Strauss Group," the spokeswoman said.
"The Strauss Group or Max Brenner International has absolutely no holding in Max Brenner Australia."
Executive Council of Australian Jewry chief Peter Wertheim said the video was "revealing".
"This exposes the unthinking prejudice underpinning the BDS movement," Mr Wertheim said.
He said Intel, Microsoft and other similar companies operated in Israel and supplied the Israeli Defence Force without being targeted by BDS activists.
"It is not difficult to understand the reason for this hypocrisy," he said. "Any attempt to boycott the products of these other companies, which are integral to the lives of most people in Australia, would be met with derision."
The video revelations came a day after a BDS action against the planned opening of a Max Brenner at the University of NSW.
University officials reacted to that with a statement condemning "in the strongest possible terms" anti-Semitic comments made on a Facebook page promoting the rally.