Broad consensus on terrorism, BDS at Australia, Israel UK event

Joan Ryan, who chairs the British Labor Friends of Israel, said all those present had come in solidarity with the Israeli people.

December 15, 2015 00:50
3 minute read.
WOMEN HOLD pins that advocate a boycott against Israel

WOMEN HOLD pins that advocate a boycott against Israel. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Two Jews, three opinions goes the old Jewish adage. However, when it comes to terrorism and Boycott Divestment and Sanctions, differences of opinion are minimal and the overall attitude is one of consensus.

This was the case Monday when Likud, Labor, Kulanu and Yesh Atid members of Knesset, Israeli academics and security experts met in the Knesset with counterparts from Australia and the United Kingdom in a day-long conference that took place within the framework of the Australia, Israel UK Leadership Dialogue.

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An initiative of Moroccan born Australian businessman, jazz musician and patron of the arts Albert Dadon who spent part of his youth in Dimona and Paris before moving to Australia, this year’s dialogue was the seventh in the series since 2002, and the fourth trilateral dialogue.

The group, which included former ambassadors, was welcomed by Yesh Atid MK Yaakov Perry, chairman of the Israel Australia Parliamentary Friendship Group, who warned against the global threat of radical Islam and emphasized the need for western democracies to join forces against those who seek to destroy democracy, freedom, equality and human rights.

Australian Attorney-General senator George Brandis QC, who is also national security minister, commented that: “Domestic terrorism has seldom been part of Australian life. For Australia this is something new.”

While appropriate measures must be taken to defend citizens, he added, this must be done without compromising ethical values.

Addressing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, Kulanu MK Michael Oren queried why Israel was singled by the EU for labeling of products from the West Bank and the Golan Heights when this regulation has not been applied to products from other countries in which there are territorial disputes.

Joan Ryan, who chairs the British Labor Friends of Israel and was participating in the dialogue for the first time, said all those who had come from Australia and the UK had done so in solidarity with the Israeli people in the face of violence and the international campaign to delegitimize Israel.

“It is important not to allow the actions of a noisy minority to detract from the strength of our two countries’ relationship,” she insisted.

Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and secretary-general of the Labor Party, Hilik Bar, who also heads the Knesset Caucus to fight BDS said BDS activists do not work for the benefit of the Palestinian people but for the destruction of Israel and the best way to fight the movement was with legislation.

Another method of fighting BDS came from Australian Labor Party MP Michael Danby who described sit-ins organized by prominent politicians and members of the Jewish community at a Max Brenner chocolate shop in Melbourne where they drank hot chocolate after the store was subjected to protest demonstrations and calls for boycott. The protesters realized they had lost the battle, he said.

Meanwhile, David Suissa, president of Tribe Media Corp., proposed a branding campaign whereby the word boycott would be replaced by “emulate.”

He launched the campaign on social media Monday, saying all the positive things about Israel are on the Internet, and easy to find.

“We’re not creating new information. We’re just packaging it into Emulate Israel,” he said, stressing that the idea is to make people realize that Israel is indispensable.

That was a thought shared by Sir Eric Pickles, chairman of the British Conservative Friends of Israel.

“A world without Israel would be incomplete,” said Pickles, who noted that Israel is not just the home of the Jewish people but through its innovation has contributed to the whole world.

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