Fri Aug 26, 2011 8:32AM GMT
Rihab Charida, Press TV, Sydney
Groups within Australia that are dedicated to the boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, campaign against Israel feel that their campaign and civil liberties are under attack.
Despite a unified statement by the Australian BDS groups outlining their action as being against Israel's clear violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention and numerous UN resolutions, BDS campaigners are being labeled as anti-Semitic, not only by the mainstream media but by the Australian Federal Government as well.
Earlier this week the Greens attempted to push a motion through parliament protecting people's right to exercise ethical purchasing in the form of boycotts. The motion was dismissed as out-of-hand. Facing what it describes as a crackdown on their campaign and their right to protest, BDS activists have been met with police violence during their actions against the Max Brenner Café's. Two protests were shut down and a total of 21 activists arrested.
The campaign against the Max Brenner café's - which is both Israeli owned and a material supporter of the Israeli Army, has led to BDS activists being labeled anti-Semitic and extremists by both the mainstream media and parliamentary members, and there are now moves in the Australian government to criminalize their activities.
Liberal Senator Rob Boswell asked the Senate to back a resolution condemning the boycott movement and the individuals and groups responsible for the actions against Max Brenner. The resolution also sought to affirm that Australia recognised Israel as a “good friend.” Though the Greens voted against the motion, his resolution was passed.
In a further show of support for Israel, the Australian government will join a growing list of western governments including the US, Canada, the Czech Republic, Italy and The Netherlands in boycotting UNESCO'S anti-racism summit, Durban III, due to be held in New York claiming the high-level conference will be a platform for anti-Semitism.
The Durban I and II conferences issued a statement that equated Zionism with racism and racial discrimination. Australia's withdrawal comes at a time when the federal government is pushing for a seat on the UN Security Council - a bid that analysts believe will be undermined by the government's boycott of the high-level anti-racist conference.
Rather than condemn Israel's violations of international law, humanitarian law and numerous UN resolutions, the Australian government is declaring its staunch support for Israel.
Experts say the withdrawal from the Durban conference and the failure to recognise the right of protest groups to engage in ethical boycotts have highlighted Australia's dedication to Israel and it's interests in spite of the rights violations of its citizens and it's own international standing.
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