Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) — I rise to speak about a protest which was held in Melbourne Central shopping centre last Friday, where extreme groups, largely comprised of left-wing students, attempted to threaten and intimidate retailers selling Israeli-made goods as part of a disgraceful and racist Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign, or BDS campaign. This global campaign, which carries the endorsement of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Greens, is an appalling effort by the extreme left to attack Israel through consumer-led sanctions, with the aim of hurting Israel’s economy and small businesses here in Victoria for having the audacity to sell Israeli products.
The retailers here in Melbourne suffered financial loss owing to the need to close, and their staff were intimidated and denied the right to work while the leftist anti-Israel fanatics rampaged through the public shopping centre.
This is even more concerning when it appears that this group is determined to cause mayhem and in some cases violence. There is now talk that this group is not only threatening businesses that sell Israeli products but businesses that are owned by members of the Jewish community.
Given this local disgraceful activity in Melbourne and the current turmoil in the Middle East, it is disappointing to hear that on this day the Labor Party, through the member for Thomastown, seeks to create a Victorian Parliamentary Friends of Palestine friendship group. I know that Melbourne’s Jewish small business community will not be threatened, intimidated or prevented from trading as a result of the actions of this extreme element in our society. I am sure that Bialik College, which has representatives in the gallery today, will be aware of this issue.