Diane Fields has written a brief report on the successful rally held in Sydney yesterday. The rally was called in solidarity with the Max Brenner 19.
As I write this brief report of yesterday’s successful Sydney protest against Israeli-war crime supporting company Max Brenner, I see the latest toll of Israel’s current bombing of Gaza – 19 dead, 42 injured. Horribly, these figures are almost certainly out of date already.
Standing against such massacres makes me even prouder to have been part of yesterday’s protest, with so many others. The Newtown rally was initiated as an emergency Facebook event by BDS activists Patrick Langosch, Ben Peterson, Tereza Hendlova and Anika Moeen in response to the 9 August police raids in Melbourne to re-arrest four BDS activists for allegedly breaching their bail conditions by attending another BDS protest. $18,000 surety had to be paid before the police would release them. But we weren’t just protesting about this attack on civil liberties.
As the Facebook page pointed out “The police, government and pro-Israel media are trying to stop BDS from exposing Israel’s crimes and the companies that support them. These arrests are part of an organised campaign by the establishment to silence dissent and crack down on our right to protest. Join us to defend Palestinian human rights and our civil rights.”
Within a few days a range of speakers was organised. Two of the Australian participants in the recent Gaza Freedom Flotilla 2, Vivienne Porzsolt of Jews Against the Occupation, and former Greens MP Sylvia Hale, spoke passionately about the plight of Palestine, about the attack on civil liberties represented by the raids and charges on activists, and about the attempt to smear BDS protests as “anti-Semitic”. Other speakers included Khaled Ghannam of the Australian Palestinian Cultural Centre, and Tony Iltis on behalf of the Stop the War Coalition. The final speaker was Melbourne Palestine activist Vashti Kenway, the “$10,000 woman” who had to come up with this huge amount of money in order not to be kept in a Melbourne jail for her role in continuing to organise and participate in the Max Brenner BDS protests in Melbourne.
She argued that we needed to make the name Max Brenner as emblematic of Israeli apartheid as the Springbok rugby team had been of South African apartheid in the 1970s. Just before we marched off, the MC put to the crowd that we should make this the first of many protests against Max Brenner in Newtown, with the next on Saturday 10 September. This met with great enthusiasm, and an open organising meeting to get it and future “Boycott Max Brenner” actions off the ground will take place at 6pm this Thursday, 25 August at UTS.
One very accurate count had us at 98 as we began the march from the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre up King Street to the Max Brenner outlet. By lots of chanting – “Max Brenner you can’t hide, you support genocide” – and leafleting with the latest fact sheet about Max Brenner’s support for two of the most vicious brigades of the vicious Israeli army, we managed to attract others to join the march.
On arrival at Max Brenner, we found the promised crowd of supporters of Israel’s war crimes pretending to be happy customers of Max Brenner. Of course, they couldn’t keep up the pretence, abusing us through the glass, and a few even coming out onto the footpath to make vile racist comments about how many Palestinians had been killed. The protest got louder and we had the numbers. Max Brenner had to close its door. As we dispersed down King St, further announcements of “We’ll be back on September 10” rang out.
The lead banner with its three slogans – Free Palestine! Defend the right to protest! Boycott Max Brenner! – will be getting a lot of airings in future as the campaign on all three fronts continues. I for one will be re-organising my Thursday night so I can come to the 6pm Boycott Max Brenner meeting at UTS. PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD about the organising meeting and even more so the next Boycott Max Brenner protest, 1pm Sat 10 September, outside Newtown Neighbourhood Centre to march up King St to Max Brenner.