Australian chamber debates boycott of Israeli products

Federal senators engage in heated political debate with conflicting views of anti-Israeli boycott movement; Green party condemned for support.

September 13, 2011 15:24
1 minute read.
Max Brenner

Max Brenner 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Australian politicians engaged in heated political debate on Tuesday, with contrasting opinions about support or condemnation of boycotting Israeli products and businesses, according to an AAP report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

It was reported that Australia's part in the global anti-Israeli Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement was at the root of the debate.The Greens were condemned for not having denounced the movement, which Greens Party senator Lee Rhiannon has publicly supported in the past, though it is not party policy.

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BDS is a campaign that has expressed itself in various regions of the world through academic, cultural, political and economic boycotts of Israel. The movement recently gained some momentum in Australia, with protests taking place outside Israeli chocolate shop chain Max Brenner in several cities during the summer.

"(The Senate) should not tolerate the boycotting of businesses because the ownership is Jewish," leader of the opposition in the Senate Eric Abetz is reported to have said. "We know enough about world history never to go down that track."

AAP quoted Greens Party Deputy Christine Milne rejecting accusations from other parties that compared their support of the boycott to the start of the Holocaust: "I know precisely about the cruelty of the Nazis to the Jews in the second World War and I find it despicable in the extreme that every last one of you stand over there and try and point fingers."

He reportedly added, "The issue we should be debating is the question of ... a two-state solution in the Middle East."

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