SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – Australia’s foreign minister joined a Jewish legislator inside an Israeli business that was a target of a boycott call by pro-Palestinian activists.
Foreign Minster Kevin Rudd was invited by Michael Danby, a Labor government lawmaker, to Max Brenner’s chocolate shop in downtown Melbourne on Thursday in what Danby described as “symbolic act” of solidarity with Israel and the local Jewish community.
Three policemen were injured during the July 1 demonstration against the Brenner store, part of an Israeli chain. Nineteen protesters were arrested.
Organizers said they had targeted Max Brenner because its Israeli parent company, the Strauss Group, engaged in “ongoing ethnic cleansing” by supporting the Israel Defense Forces. Strauss provides care packages and sports equipment to the IDF’s Golani and Givati brigades.
Danby, the new chair of Australia’s Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Committee, said Rudd was “shocked at the historical precedent of the protests against Israeli and Jewish shops.”
Rudd, who stepped down last year as prime minister, said, “I don’t think in 21st-century Australia there is a place for the attempted boycott of a Jewish business.” He added: “I thought we had learned that from history.”