Fay Waddington (QLD) makes official complaint to Press Council re Australian article “Shop targeted for daring to sell Israeli shoes” 3Sep12 September 3, 2012

Australian Press Council
10.02 117 York Street
Sydney 2000

E-mail info@presscouncil.org.au

Official Complaint for your consideration:

An article in The Australian of 30th August by journalist Christian Kerr under the headline “Shop Targeted for Daring to Sell Israeli Shoes” contained several erroneous statements about which I, as someone whose reputation with neighbours and family has been sullied as a consequence of the article, wish to lodge a formal complaint. 

The statement in the article I find most defamatory is:

“..activists had occupied her store until told to leave by police. They spent close to three hours outside”.

The journalist (Mr Kerr) being obviously not present during the incident had to rely on information supplied after the event by a Sally McGregor mentioned in the article.  I can only speculate on the motivation for Sally Macgregor to embellish the incident. Perhaps the free publicity it would generate.  As someone who with my husband has run their own company  for 30 years I can on some level understand  though not condone this tactic. I mistakenly thought it would be incumbent on Mr Kerr to seek some verification before publishing the article or at least refer to statement such as that in question as allegation if he could not.

Miss McGregor was of course not in a position to know that at around midday she was just the second stop on our Walking Tour for that day. Otherwise she would not have agreed to the delusional comment in the article that we spent three hours intimidating customers outside her shoe shop.  The fact of the matter was that after we visited her shop we moved onto three other retail outlets then had a debriefing in KGS. This entire activity still allowed me to be on the train home to Eagle Junction by 1pm when we were according to Mr Kerr still engaging in mafia style tactics outside the shoe store.

The article states that “spokespeople from Justice for Palestine did not respond to calls from The Australian”.  I have been advised by fellow activists involved that by the time a spokesperson for the group returned the call from Mr Kerr he was told the article had already gone to press.  Considering the seriousness of the accusations I would have thought a professional investigative journalist would have attempted another source of verification.  At least two members of The Queensland Police Service were present for the entire “Walking Tour” and may have been willing to enlighten Mr Kerr. 

Crickey! Even a work experience journalist might have thought to ask one of the businesses in the immediate vicinity if they noticed a supposed group of 50 (I wish) activists loudly intimidating people for 3 hours outside “Children of the Revolution Shoe Store” last Saturday.

If Mr. Kerr contacted the police he may have been able to ascertain that such activists were outside the store for a maximum of 10 minutes on arrival. During this first phase one of us read the attached statement.  I noticed two police officers were present at the time.  Immediately after the statement was read two activists (I and the other who is a school teacher by day) entered the store to attempt to deliver the attached letter to anyone in authority we could find.  We would have been inside the store for less than five minutes. During this time I noticed a police officer had also come inside. I had no interaction at all with him.  I very briefly engaged in dialogue initiated by someone (possibly Sally McGregor) when she raised the point that the reason the store stocked the targeted brand of shoe was its environmental credentials. The letter (which is hardly intimidating when it contains the words “we respectfully request that you stop selling goods from Israel”) being carried by the other activist who entered was given to someone before we both left without any request to do so from police.  The entire walking group then moved on to the next targeted store not to return that day at all to “Children of the Revolution Shoe Store”.  Absolutely no threats were made as stated in Mr. Kerr’s article. The three hours claim is an audacious fabrication…

I make no apology with family neighbours and friends for my involvement in various methods (all nonviolent) of trying to alleviate the ongoing oppression of Palestinians.  This task is made extremely difficult when so much bias is displayed by politicans and press as demonstrated in this article which erroneously paints me and my colleagues as using “mafia style tactics”.

A retraction would be nice.  I would like something if possible on letterhead which I can show neighbours and family who are currently eyeing me off as if I am some sort of Jihadist.  A penance of Mr Kerr being forced to attend the address to the Press Club by Israeli historian Professor Ilan Pappe to be delivered on 19th September might help alleviate some of his obvious bias.

____________________________

Letter delivered to stores stocking Israeli Goods as part of the first Brisbane BDS Walking Tour, 25 August 2012.

To whom it may concern

Your business has been identified as stocking goods that are under international boycott because they were made in Israel or in illegal Israeli settlements within the occupied Palestinian territories.

You may, or may not, have heard of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against the State of Israel. The boycott call was issued on July 9th in 2005 by over 171 Palestinian civil-society organisations, who called on the international community to implement the BDS campaign against Israel. Inspired by the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, the Palestinian-initiated BDS campaign is conducted in a similar framework of international solidarity and resistance to injustice and oppression and calls for popular resistance through the BDS campaign until Israel complies with international law and meets its obligations towards the Palestinian people.

The international BDS campaign movement is committed to international law and human rights and demands that Israel:

· Ends its occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands and dismantles the separation Wall, considered illegal by the International Court of Justice;

· Recognises the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

· Accepts the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

Since the beginning of the BDS campaign many businesses around the world have decided to support the boycott and remove Israeli goods from their shelves. National, State and local governments, church groups and community organisations have divested from Israeli business interests and international corporations that support illegal actions by Israel, such as the building of settlements and infrastructure on or through Palestinian land.

The treatment of Palestinians by Israel has been likened to the former apartheid regime in South Africa by respected former activists who were involved in the South African anti-apartheid movement (including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela).

In 1973, the U.N. General Assembly adopted the international Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, which holds that apartheid is a crime against humanity. The word apartheid means separation. Apartheid is defined by the U.N. as “a system of institutionalised racial segregation and discrimination for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group over another and systematically oppressing them by, among other things, creating ghettos; land confiscations; illegal arrests and detentions; bans on freedom of movement and speech and prohibiting mixed marriages.

We consider the actions of the State of Israeli meet this definition of apartheid, as do many other organisations around the world today.

We therefore respectfully ask you to stop importing and selling goods from Israel.

We are committed to ongoing mobilised non-violent action to support the boycott.

We have attached some information on the apartheid system in Israel and encourage you to read it and join us in acting in solidarity with the people of Palestine and supporting their legal and human rights.

Justice for Palestine (Brisbane)

___________________________________

SPEECH GIVEN AT ‘CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION’, BRISBANE, 25TH, AUGUST, 2012

Here we are ‘Children of the Revolution’. Unfortunately, there’s nothing revolutionary about this shop. In fact, its most popular brand is Naot Shoes, an Israeli company that actively supports the Israeli brand of apartheid.

According to its website, ‘Children of the Revolution’ is “dedicated to sourcing and providing the most progressively fashionable and functional footwear from around the world.”

Since when is apartheid fashionable or functional?

Since when is trampling on the human rights of an oppressed people fashionable or functional?

Well, at ‘Children of the Revolution’ it seems!

Naot Shoes was founded in 1942 at Kibbutz Neot Mordecai and is now one of Israel’s most successful exporter of shoes. 80% are distributed internationally, especially to the USA, Canada and Australia.

What is even more disturbing is that 66% of Naot Shoes is owned by Shamrock Holdings, the investment branch of Disney enterprises which is committed to Israel’s growth and expansion. It is involved in a number of illegal Israeli colonies and also invests in the construction of Israel’s wall which has had huge and negative repercussions on the humanitarian welfare of Palestinians and which was wholeheartedly condemned by the International Court of Justice in 2004.

Naot Shoes has a large factory outlet in the illegal Gush Etzion colony on occupied Palestinian Territory between Jerusalem and Hebron on the West Bank. The Gush Etzion block is occupied illegally by 70,000 colonists on land legally allocated to the Palestinian people in 1947.

The factory outlet store plays a role in strengthening and legitimising the Gush Etzion colony, providing employment for the residents of the colony and attracting both Israeli customers and international tourists alike to the area.

The systematic oppression of the Palestinian people relies on companies such as Naot and Disney. This apartheid regime – based on race and religion – forces Palestinians to live in small, prison-like areas divided by walls, military checkpoints and Israeli only roads. This, in turn, leads to poverty and a massive health crisis.

This does not sound to me to be “progressive and functional”.

In the 70s and 80s no-one who supported human rights or opposed racism, no-one with a conscience would have bought products from South Africa. And this boycott helped to bring about the end of the apartheid regime there.

We are in the middle of a similar campaign now – a campaign to end apartheid in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

Palestinian people are asking us to boycott Israeli products such as Naot shoes – just as the oppressed people of South Africa asked us to boycott South African products. As people of conscience we should listen to them.

When you walk in Naot shoes you walk on the rights of Palestinian people.

When you sell Naot shoes you profit from the oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian people.


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