The following article was published by Socialist Alternative on 29 August 2011:
Zionists and fascists unite against Palestine supporters
By Rebecca Barrigos & Reeshan Yameen
Far-right rallies for Israel on Saturday(L), fascism on Sunday(R). *see note at end of article.
Zionists in Brisbane marched side by side with fascists on Saturday. The two groups have seemingly made an alliance over their support for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians.
Around 60 pro-Palestine activists took to Brisbane’s popular Southbank café district to protests outside the Israeli-owned Max Brenner chocolate store. Max Brenner has proudly proclaimed its sponsorship of the notoriously brutal Golani and Givati brigades of the Israeli Defence Force, which have carried out massacres of Palestinians.
The first sight we were confronted with as we marched towards the Max Brenner store was a hundred-strong contingent of Zionist counter demonstrators with megaphone-wielding members of the Australian Patriotic Defence Movement (APDM), a fascist organisation, on the front line. This alliance of fascists and Israel supporters then proceeded to spew forth a tirade of abuse.
The next day, these self-same APDM fascists assembled for the second racist rally that they have called in as many weeks in Brisbane’s King George Square. The same people who dared to accuse us of being Nazis and “holocaust supporters” the day before were revealed as actual Nazis at a demonstration where they claimed Muslims are ruining our “Australian way of life” and called for the burqa to be banned, spouting racist filth for hours, whilst proudly displaying the Israeli flag.
Contemptibly, the Zionist counter-rally on Saturday was given the full backing of the state, with the police giving them free rein to assemble. Meanwhile, the cops actively prevented our demonstration, for which they had issued a permit, from approaching the store and corralled us in a tiny space around the back of the venue.
The behaviour of the Brisbane police is entirely consistent with the actions of the Australian state which backs Israel to the hilt. The state has tried to silence the pro-Palestine campaign not only through lies, and accusations of anti-Semitism but also repression, as seen in the recent arrests of 19 activists at a demonstration against Max Brenner in Melbourne.
The rally took place at the end of a week of rabid campaigning by the media, the Labor Party and Liberal Nationals politicians in the Queensland senate. They have attempted to paint Palestine supporters as anti-Jewish and to discredit the campaign against Max Brenner by likening it to blockades of Jewish businesses in Nazi Germany.
On Saturday and Sunday, the real fascists were out on the streets and it was clear whose side they’re on – and who is supporting them.
The confidence the Zionists feel to defend an apartheid state is the confidence of those who know the establishment is on their side. Yet the fact that the Zionists have been compelled to organise a large mobilisation to defend Max Brenner and Israel also demonstrates their fear that the BDS campaign is bringing attention to the plight of Palestinians. They know that the thin veil of respectability that Israel and the companies that support it shield themselves in is being pulled away.
We must take heart from this and redouble our efforts in Brisbane to build a strong pro-Palestine campaign.
* Image note. The same person on the magaphone on the left (at the anti-Palestine rally alongside Zionists) is also pictured the following day at an Australian Patriotic Defence League rally. He was one of a number of APDL members who attended and spoke at both protests. None among the anti-BDS protesters objected to the presence of these fascists in their ranks.
The following was received by email on 31 August 2011:
VICTORIAN TRADES HALL COUNCIL PASSES MOTION DEFENDING BDS PROTESTS AGAINST MAX BRENNER
The Victorian Trades Hall Council (the peak union body in Victoria) Executive passed the following positive motion in support of the BDS campaign as well as condemning the police attacks on protesters.
This is a really welcome step forward and we hope that the campaign can continue to garner more support from unions across the country,
The motion is written below.:
Palestine, the BDS, the ACCC and Police Behavior at Rallies
That VTHC Executive Council reaffirms its long standing policies relating to the Palestine/Israel conflict namely:
Its support for the BDS Campaign and Palestinian statehood.
Its support for the BDS campaign is aimed at urgent and sincere talks and not the tactics of the past, where while the talks were actually occurring, more settlements were being planned for construction upon Palestinian territory.
Council notes that in recent weeks the Israeli Knesset passed the anti-boycott bill making it illegal for Israelis to call for boycotts in response to the ongoing illegal occupation of Palestinian land, mandated to them by the UN. We note the recent spate of rallies, public meetings and debate organised by Israeli citizens in response to a number of issues including the Knesset's new law, demanding that it be rescinded.
Council notes the potential involvement of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in industrial and political disputes. This would be an aggressive smokescreen aimed at stifling legitimate industrial and political activity by unions and other organisations behind a facade of protecting business interests. Executive Council notes the most recent officials to be threatened with ACCC intervention Kevin Bracken of the MUA and Tim Gooden of Geelong Trades Hall Council, in relation to speeches at a BDS rally. Hence Council directs the Secretary to raise our concerns urgently with the ACTU, and to seek a joint approach to the Federal Government to demand the guarantee that the Trades Practices Act will not be used to interfere in the political discourse.
Council notes with concern an increase, in some police regions and around certain political issues, in harsh and violent responses by sections of Victoria Police, in dealing with what are legitimate industrial and political protests over recent months. Council believes the arrest and prosecution of workers demonstrating at Visy Dandenong, and the arrest and prosecution of protesters at a recent BDS Rally in the CBD, indicate a disproportionate escalation of aggressive action by Victoria Police. Council believes that the be completely inconsistent with the principles of Free Speech and the right to peaceful protest.
Therefore Council directs the Secretary to formally lodge a protest with the State Minister for Police, seek a meeting with Police Industrial to discuss any shortfall in police training around behavior at rallies, and to have informal discussions with the Police Association on whether a new, harsh policy on industrial and political demonstrations has been introduced since the last State elections in Victoria.
MOVED: Len Cooper
SECONDED: Kevin Bracken