Victorian government to probe legality of Israel boycott


SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — Australian Jewry’s head lauded the “moral fiber” of the Victorian government for seeking a probe into whether proponents of an Israel boycott are breaching Australian law.

In a statement issued Monday, Executive Council of Australian Jewry President Dr. Danny Lamm welcomed the recent decision by the Liberal state government to ask the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to investigate supporters of the “immoral and illegal” Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.

The landmark move comes in the wake of a July 1 protest in which 19 pro-BDS protesters were arrested during a clash with police outside a Max Brenner chocolate store in downtown Melbourne. Three policemen were injured in the fracas.

Consumer Affairs Minister Michael O’Brien said Monday that he believes BDS supporters may be in contravention of section 45D of the Commonwealth Competition and Consumer Act.

“To think you are going to influence the policies of the government of Israel by attacking a business running in this state is just appalling,” O’Brien told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “There are certainly very ugly undertones to these protests, and it’s not a path we want to go down in Victoria.”

The Victorian government believes the protests may constitute a “secondary boycott” which is in breach of Australian law.

Lamm blasted the protesters for being “highly selective” about the Israeli products they target.

“The BDS organizers will call for a boycott of certain Israeli cosmetics and chocolate products, but they wouldn’t dream of telling you not to use Windows operating systems developed by Microsoft Israel," he said. “The real agenda is to defame Israel, as their slogans reveal.”

A spokeswoman for the BDS in Australia said she was “outraged” by the government’s decision to “criminalize” any protests against corporations that support Israel.

Another protest is being planned against a Max Brenner store in Brisbane on Aug. 27.

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