In a recent 3-page spread in The Australian Jewish News (BDS Explained, 29/7/11), Vic Alhadeff, CEO of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, despite deeming the BDS campaign "one of the most pressing issues to preoccupy the Jewish world" because it was "the sharp end of a drive to destroy Israel itself," cautioned against mounting counter-demonstrations at Max Brenner outlets.
Invoking the old adage 'Speak softly and carry a big stick', Alhadeff wrote that "our response to BDS forms part of a coordinated national strategy... endorsed by counterparts abroad and Israel's Foreign Ministry. That response has included... engagement with civil society and politicians, patronage of boycotted outlets, cooperation with police, shop owners and centre managers, and exposure of the motives behind the BDS movement." (Protests not the answer)
Here is Israel's strategy, its 'big stick', unveiled by one of the party faithful, to counter the BDS campaign against Max Brenner.
Of course, we've seen its various elements in operation for months now:
We've seen Israel's useful fools in politics and the media exposing the motives behind the BDS movement by darkly hinting at or shouting from the rooftops that Max Brenner protesters are, in effect, the new Nazis. (See my 13/9/11 post Smear & Loathing for the details.)
We've seen the usual suspects, with Murdoch press in tow, patronising boycotted outlets. There was Kevin Rudd and Michael Danby turning up at Melbourne's QV Max Brenner store on July 14, followed by Danby, AWU secretary Paul Howes, former Labor Party president Warren Mundine, 'comedian' Austen Tayshus, and journalist Jana Wendt on July 27. No doubt we'll be seeing more such cavortings.
And we've seen how engaging with politicians means deploying Israel lobby stooges in state and federal parliaments to rail against BDS and, absent a principled national stance by the Greens on BDS, exploiting and fomenting divisions among them.
Yesterday's smear and loathing in the Senate was a fine example.
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Ron Boswell, in seeking to move a motion condemning BDS, had seized on the recent idiotic comment by NSW Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham that "the tone and the public perception of the Max Brenner protests may be counter-productive to the cause of peace and human rights in the Middle East." (See my 9/9/11 post Which Side are You On?) Inexplicably, using the exact same language as Murdoch's Australian - "the protest is not only futile but counter-productive" (editorial, 15/8/11); "the BDS movement is misguided and counter-productive" (editorial, 3/9/11) - the clueless Buckingham had merely provided a handy little wedge for Boswell to hammer home:
"Australia rightly celebrates a robust and diverse democracy. That is healthy. What is not healthy and is indeed destructive for our democracy is when leaders fail to condemn that which is vile and detestable, when they fail to call that which is vile and detestable what it is - namely, vile and detestable. There is no description other than 'vile and detestable' for the BDS campaign against Israel, a campaign shamefully aided and abetted by the Australian Greens... [I]t is heart-warming to note that at least one Green in NSW has reservations about this vile and detestable campaign... Senator Brown has in his party senators willing to address rallies where the flag of Israel is disfigured; the Star of David is taken out and replaced by a swastika. He has senators that support the boycotting of Jewish businesses in Australia... What is worse, the Greens leader himself sneaks onto the Notice Paper [a question to the Minister for Trade] asking for a list of products imported into Australia from Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, so-called... This is a matter on which the Senate should move a motion to condemn the Australian Greens and their leader... Australia... should not tolerate the boycotting of businesses because their ownership is Jewish. I think we know enough about world history to never go down that track as a country."
The clueless Brown could have seized on Boswell's failure to even acknowledge that the Palestinians are an occupied people, or reminded him that boycotting Max Brenner has nothing whatever to do with "Jewish ownership." But he didn't, choosing instead to blather on lamely about "the travail of the Palestinian people and the security of the people of Israel" and "the healing of wounds in the Middle East" as though Israel's colonisation of Palestine and the dispossession of its people could be overcome by a little relationship counselling.
"Senator Brown is floundering, and he is as guilty as sin on this...," goaded the vile and despicable, but exceedingly cunning, Boswell. "I have in my possession photographs taken with a swastika superimposed on a Jewish flag... That is shameful from anyone's perspective. I know Senator Milne is terrified about this... She is a decent woman and does not want to be associated with this. I do not blame her for one minute... What the people who support the Greens want to know is whether the Greens are an environment party, a green party, or whether they are an anti-Semitic, extreme Labor party..."
Labor's Senator Ludwig (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Manager of Government business) couldn't allow this slight to Labor pass without comment and weighed in by reminding the chamber that "the Australian government [had] repeatedly condemned the BDS." But rather than take on Boswell for his vile and detestable smears, Ludwig actually managed the incredible feat of blaming BDS for lowering the tone in this parliamentary cesspit!:
"In opposing the BDS campaign the government does not want our language or conduct, particularly in this place, to be lowered to that used in the BDS campaigns. From some of the language that is being used I am concerned that we are now entertaining a similar type of campaign in language that the BDS uses."
Then up popped Senator Fifield (Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate) to take the baton from Boswell:
"The BDS campaign is part of an orchestrated campaign to delegitimise the state of Israel... It dresses itself up in the clothes of the anti-apartheid movement, that great and successful movement that sort to fight the abomination of separate racial development in South Africa. But in dressing itself up in the mantle of the anti-apartheid movement, it debases and devalues that noble campaign... There is no comparison and there can be no comparison between the state of Israel and apartheid era South Africa... The [BDS] movement is not pro-peace [or] pro-Palestinian, the movement is unequivocally and unashamedly anti-Israel and anti-Jewish... What must be condemned are the shadows of anti-Semitism, which we see in placards outside Max Brenner coffee shops around the world."
Poor Senator Milne! She could, of course, have begged to differ with Fifield about Israeli apartheid and cited the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu or Ronnie Kasrils. She could have invoked the definitive findings of South Africa's Human Sciences Research Council on the fact of Israeli apartheid (See my 21/9/09 post: Israeli Apartheid: The Jury's In). But no, Senator Milne had had her buttons well and truly pressed, and she rushed to defend herself from the dreaded charge of anti-Semitism:
"I rise today to note what is one of the lowest points of Senate debate since I took my Senate seat in 2005. I say it is one of the lowest moments because those of us who do have a memory of history, those of us who do know what happened in 1939, those of us who do know what happened with the Nazi atrocities in 1939 and thereafter in the Second World War find it absolutely despicable that people can stand up and barter that as if it were an appropriate way of condemning or commenting on another political party. I have stood in Pere-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris and I have seen where the Resistance were shot against a wall. I taught at Devonport High School with an elderly gentleman who lived through the Crystal Night. I have known those people and I have spoken with those people and looked at that over the years. I know precisely about the cruelty of the Nazis to the Jews in the Second World War..."
What an insight the 'debate' was into the moral and intellectual void inhabited by certain elements of the unrepresentative swill who are only too happy to serve Israel's interests when called on. And what an insight into the cluelessness and cowardice of some of the federal Greens whose lack of an informed and principled position in support of BDS allow them to be taunted thus.