On July 5, the Senate passed a motion that condemned the Marrickville Council for its vote last December in favour of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against apartheid Israel. This was the latest in a growing attack against the BDS movement by the Zionists and their supporters in the government and corporate media in this country. Of course, these attacks have been taking place consistently in other countries since the founding of the movement in 2005.
The attacks are intensifying here for the simple reason that the campaign is starting to gain ground. In the last 12 months, it has spread around the country. Many trade unions have passed motions in support of the BDS campaign. Australian Artists Against Apartheid has been established. There are now regular protest actions as part of the BDS campaign in most capital cities. In Melbourne in the last month, after a series of very successful protest actions, the campaign has succeeded in shutting down the Israeli cosmetics company stall in the Melbourne Central complex.
There are many more people who now know about the boycott against Israel, in no small part due to the publicity BDS received during the Zionists’ campaign against the Marrickville Council decision.
The only tactics in the arsenal of the Zionists are lies, misinformation, bullying and violence. They cannot win support for their apartheid system, so they have to try to silence the truth.
Despite their best efforts, the BDS campaign is gaining ground. What is important now is to turn this growing awareness of the boycott into real understanding of the apartheid nature of Israel and the colonial war of occupation it is waging against the people of Palestine.
And we have to turn that understanding into participation. As with any grassroots campaign, the success of BDS relies on widespread participation.
Whenever there is an attack on the campaign, we have to intensify our efforts. We have to step up the campaign to meet the challenges.
In Melbourne on July 1, the campaign faced a violent attack by the Victorian police. A peaceful protest outside the Israeli-owned chocolate shop Max Brenner was brutally broken up, and 19 protesters were arrested.
This attack was in direct response to the success the campaign has had in Melbourne. It is designed to intimidate people from participating. This kind of repression of peaceful protests is highly political and born of pressure from Zionists in the political establishment.
On June 20 in NSW for example, Legislative Council member Walt Secord called on the police minister there to “provide assurances” to the Max Brenner chocolate shop after the BDS protests that had been held there in the previous month. Secord told the NSW parliament: “[BDS] has reached Australia and that is of concern. I vehemently oppose the BDS campaign.”
There is little doubt that similar political pressure was behind the police attack on the protest in Melbourne. And there is no doubt that as the campaign continues to grow around the country, we will face similar challenges and attempts to silence us.
Only a few months ago, the Zionists and their supporters were mocking the BDS campaign in Australia. In April, the head of the Business Council of Australia, Graham Bradley, visited Israel on a trade mission organised by the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce. He told the media there that the BDS is “a complete and utter joke” and that it is being ignored by the business community.
They might like to think that they can ignore the campaign, though these comments were probably more the case of trying to convince themselves of the campaigns irrelevance. But the reality is that if the campaign was so irrelevant, there would be no need for silencing tactics that are being used by the Zionists.
Their response to the BDS movement highlights their weakness – and their greatest weakness is our greatest strength – we have the truth and justice on our side.
We take our inspiration and our motivation from the determined and unrelenting struggle of the Palestinian people. When they try to silence us we will grow louder and stronger. We will redouble our efforts to build understanding and participation in the movement.
That’s what we will do: we will build a strong protest movement against the apartheid loving chocolate store, Max Brenner. And we will send a strong message that if they think they can silence us, they had better think again.
[This article is based on a speech delivered to a 100 person strong BDS protest held in Brisbane held on July 9].