Here's the latest attempt in Baruch O'Farrell's NSW to crack down on the basic human right to protest for Palestine:
"The Palestine Action Group (PAG) has decided to continue with a protest against Israeli Chocolateria chain, Max Brenner, in spite of threats by Parramatta Council of fines of over $2000. The demonstration, part of the global movement calling for Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, was organized well in advance of the threat of fines being issued today. The PAG has been coordinating with the NSW Police, who are facilitating the demonstration. Lutfi Zayed, a Palestinian activist with PAG, was contacted today and threatened by Council staff to cancel the protest or be fined... Dale Mills, lawyer and researcher at Sydney University in law in the field of political protest, says: 'If this became established council practice in NSW it would be the end of the right to protest'." (From Media Release: Parramatta Council censors Palestine supporters, protesters defiant, August 17, 2013)
This threat follows O'Farrell's threat to sack Marrickville Council over its pro-BDS stance in 2011; an unsuccessful move by the NSW Police in the NSW Supreme Court to prevent last year's Nakba rally and march in the Sydney CBD; and, most recently, the initiation by Israeli lawfare outfit Shurat HaDin of a complaint in the Human Rights Commission against Associate Professor Jake Lynch of Sydney University.
A quick internet search on the subject of the Liberal Party-dominated (7) Parramatta Council (and the Liberal push more generally into the formerly rock-solid Labor heartland of Western Sydney) is a bit of an eye-opener:
Herald journalist Kate McClymont's Backroom deals and ballot rigging - welcome to the NSW Liberals (30/7/12) contains much that should be of interest to those who think that Labor has a monopoly on 'colourful personalities', especially the references to state MP Tony Issa, dubbed 'the Graham Richardson of the Liberal Party', whose son, Steven Issa, is the Deputy Lord Mayor of Parramatta.
Worth a read too is Herald journalist Nicole Hasham's Cranes on the horizon for Parramatta's new Liberal mayor (28/9/12) for a profile of Mayor John Chedid. For an insight into the mayor's winning ways, you might also like to peruse 'Truly offensive': Lord Mayor accused of homophobia (Kristin Shorten, news.com.au, 21/1/13).
Closer to the subject matter of this blog, you would of course be fascinated to learn that Liberal councillor Jean Pierre Abood is big on 'Judeo-Christian morality' ( Michael Conditsis, facebook.com/parramattacitycouncil, 13/12/12).
And did you know that Parramatta Council has a sister city relationship with Beersheva, Israel?
Interesting place, Parramatta.
PS - 31/8/13: "A Parramatta council spokeswoman confirmed it would be taking action. 'The Palestinian [sic] Action Group were informed in writing in September 2012 in a letter from the CEO that they required permission from council to hold such activity,' she said. 'After council became aware of another planned protest on Saturday, 16 [sic] August, 2013, a letter was issued by the council to the Palestinian Action Group that once again explained the requirement... NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff said: 'The decision to impose punitive measures against the PAG is a matter for Parramatta Council'." (Council acts against anti-Israel group, Christian Kerr, The Australian)
No doubt Parramatta Council's offensive against the PAG came as a complete surprise to Mr Alhadeff.