Australian parliament debate erupts over BDS 14Sep11 September 14, 2011

YNet News  -  13 September 2011

The Australian parliament was up in arms on Tuesday with one of the most heated debates it has witnessed as senators wrangled over their support and opposition to the pro-Palestinian Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and the boycott it is leading against Israeli made products. The debate soon deteriorated to comparisons with the Nazi boycott on Jewish businesses.

 The BDS movement is actively seeking to operate against Israel on a global level through various boycotts including on Israeli-made products and companies that operate in Israel. The movement has been active in Australia for some time now with its activists recently participating in demonstrations against the Max Brenner chocolate stores in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Parliamentary coalition sought to denounce the Green party, a coalition member, for abstaining from condemning the BDS campaign. Senators from the Greens have previously supported the boycott, but it is not the party’s official stance.

 The JTA Jewish news agency reported that liberal Jewish lawmaker Joshua Frydenberg had urged the Greens to condemn the BDS campaign on Monday.

 “There are no limits to their tactics or their hatred,” he told the lower house. “This is what drives the campaign’s proponents to disrupt an Israeli Philharmonic Concert or to picket an Israeli-owned hot chocolate cafe like Max Brenner in Melbourne.”

 Eric Abetz, a Liberal senator from Tasmania, said Tuesday that the upper house “should not tolerate the boycotting of businesses because the ownership is Jewish … we know enough about world history never to go down that track.”

Senator Christine Milne responded to the claims saying: “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. The issue we should be debating is the question of … a two-state solution in the Middle East.”

Labor ended up voting with the Greens to negate the suspension, defeating the proposal 34 votes to 30.

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