Michael O’Brien, the minister for consumer affairs in the Australian state of Victoria, has asked authorities to investigate a boycott of the Max Brenner Chocolate shops in Melbourne.
O’Brien asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to examine whether “campaigners from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) group are in breach” of an Australian law against secondary boycotts.
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According to a press statement O’Brien released, a large number of people gathered outside a Max Brenner store in downtown Melbourne on July 1 “preventing potential customers from entering the store as part of an orchestrated campaign to impose a secondary boycott on the commercial activities of businesses with Israeli ownership and that carry on business with the government of Israel.”
Nineteen people were arrested outside the store in a clash with police.
“I am concerned that the persons and organizations who caused these
disturbances may have engaged in secondary boycotts for the purpose of
causing substantial loss or damage to Max Brenner’s business,” O’Brien
He said that “such conduct” could be unlawful, and he asked for the matter to be examined.
O’Brien said he has also asked for an injunction preventing further actions against Max Brenner stores.
Another BDS protest is planned for the end of August against a Max
Brenner store in Brisbane. He also suggested financial penalties against
those organizations involved in the boycott activity.
Max Brenner is part of the Strauss Group.
on Monday reported that Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd
recently met with Jewish Victorian federal Labor MP Michael Danby at the
same Max Brenner store as the BDS protest.
“I don’t think in 21st-century Australia there is a place for the
attempted boycott of a Jewish business,” Rudd was quoted as saying. “I
thought we had learned that from history.”
“According to a statement put out by AIJAC, the BDS movement has been
targeting businesses in Australia for no reason other than their
perceived relationship with Israel.
“They have included cafes, skincare product stores and other companies
with little or no political influence or direct involvement in the
Palestinian/Israeli conflict,” the statement said.
Rubenstein said that “such discriminatory practices have no place in
Australian society and, moreover, will only serve to intensify the
Palestinian- Israeli conflict by promoting division and hatred.”