Australian lawmakers battle over Israel boycott


SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — Australian lawmakers exchanged sharp rhetoric after some lawmakers were accused of condoning the Israel boycott, which was compared to Nazi-era policies.

Eric Abetz, a Liberal senator from Tasmania, said Tuesday that the upper house “should not tolerate the boycotting of businesses because the ownership is Jewish," and adding that "we know enough about world history never to go down that track."

The Greens, a junior partner in the ruling Labor government, rejected the insinuation, with Sen. Christine Milne saying, “I know precisely about the cruelty of the Nazis to the Jews in the Second World War and I find it despicable in the extreme that every last one of you stand over there and try and point fingers.”

The Greens have come under fire recently for not explicitly opposing the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, which has been targeting Max Brenner Israeli chocolate shops across Australia. Some Greens lawmakers have backed the boycott, although it is not party policy.

The debate came a day after Liberal lawmaker Joshua Frydenberg, a Jew who lost relatives in the Holocaust, urged the Greens to condemn the BDS campaign.

“There are no limits to their tactics or their hatred," he told the lower house Monday. “This is what drives the campaign’s proponents to disrupt an Israeli Philharmonic Concert or to picket an Israeli-owned hot chocolate cafe like Max Brenner in Melbourne.”

Recommended from JTA