Monday, August 18, 2014

NSW Police Seek to Can BDS Protest

Here we go again:

"Police have applied to the supreme court to stop a pro-Palestinian protest at the Israeli Film Festival in Sydney, in a move organisers have described as an attack on their right to protest. Palestine Action Group Sydney has organised the protest for Thursday night at Palace cinemas in Oxford Street when the IFF, which is run by the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange (AICE), arrives in Sydney.

"Damian Ridgwell, 28, a founder of PAGS, was served on Friday evening by two police officers with the summons to appear in the supreme court. The summons... says police have made an application under the Summary Offences Act 1988 to 'prohibit the holding of a public assembly'. No reason is given... which Ridgwell says will put him at a disadvantage when he fronts the court. 'I think they are going to try to say it will disrupt traffic but if you go by that logic there would never be any protests in Australia, almost every single one of them disrupts traffic,' he said. 'It is not just or fair to deny our right to protest... why is it that pro-Palestinian protesters have to fight for their right to protest?'" (NSW police try to stop pro-Palestinian protest at Israeli Film Festival, Bridie Jabour,, 17/8/14)

To interrupt at this point: you'll remember the unsuccessful attempt by the NSW police to use the supreme court to ban a Nakba Day march in Sydney in 2012, a blatantly political move arising out of links between the then NSW (O'Farrell) government and the Israel lobby. For the details, see my posts NSW Police Seek to Can Nakba Commemoration (13/5/12); Police v Langosch (16/5/12); and Nakba Day Backlash 1-3 (17/5/12-19/5/12)

"Ridgwell said AICE was a 'legitimate target' of protest because of its support for Israel... and called it a 'highly political group'. PAGS is a supporter of the BDS campaign against Israel, and the group argues for cultural and economic boycotts. Ridgwell said he was expecting about 1,000 people at the protest on Thursday evening. 'We are all horrified by Israel's massacre and people feel the response of the Australian government has been appalling,' he said. NSW police are also asking the PAG to cover its court costs.

"AICE was established in 2002 and focuses on literature, film, music, visual and plastic arts, drama, dance and architecture. On its website it describes itself as an 'outward focused, inclusive body, advancing the exchange of culture between Australia and Israel as a means of encouraging art and artistic links'... AICE has been conducted for comment. NSW police did not comment on the application on Sunday." (ibid)

It should be noted her that AICE is the brainchild of Melbourne developer and influential Israel lobbyist Albert Dadon, whose other progeny include the Australia-Israel Leadership Forum (See my 25/10/10 post Record Rambam), and the Australia-UK-Israel Leadership Dialogue (See my 4/11/12 post Pollies in Love-In). On Dadon, see also my 12/4/14 post The Carr Diary 3: A Mere Flash in the Pan Really.

The matter is being heard in the NSW Supreme Court at 9am this morning. Watch this space...

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