01 May 2013

Boycott fiasco

From The Australian, 30 April 2013, by EAN HIGGINS:
A MUCH-anticipated student rally in support of the international Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign against Israel ended up a damp squib today, with journalists, police and security guards nearly outnumbering protestors.
The University of NSW protest against a planned Max Brenner chocolate shop on campus had been expected to see displays of anti-Semitism, which Prime Minister Julia Gillard had denounced in advance.
Ms Gillard's intervention, reported in The Australian today, came after controversial posts appeared on the rally's Facebook page....
As it turned out, only about 30 protestors marched under the banner Students for Justice in Palestine at the Sydney campus, chanting "Max Brenner, come off it! There's blood in your hot chocolate!"
...speeches [were] delivered by speakers including SJP spokesman Damian Ridgwell, two Palestinian students, and the National Union of Students' national queer officer, Cat Rose.
...Max Brenner is a brand name of the Strauss Group, a large Israeli food and beverage company ... Max Brenner Australia said the sole shareholders of the franchise operation in this country "are a young Australian couple" who have no direct connection to the Strauss Group.
"Max Brenner Australia is not politically affiliated in any way and proudly employs over 1,100 Australian residents across 4 states," spokeswoman Kate Jones from Magnum PR said.
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff said of the protest:
"The paltry turn-out was an encouraging signal that students at UNSW don't respond to crude theatrics and blatant politicising of what is nothing more sinister than a chocolate shop."