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John Passant

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September 2011



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Why Palestinian protests target Max Brenner

Politicians and sections of the media have been in overdrive recently, condemning Palestine BDS protesters for targeting Max Brenner chocolate as part of the BDS campaign. Max Brenner, they say, has nothing to do with politics. The truth is very different, as this look at Max Brenner’s links to two of the most notorious brigades in the Israeli Defense Force in Socialist Alternative demonstrates.

The Strauss Group, which owns the Max Brenner chocolate-shop chain, is well known for its vigorous support of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). Until recently its website boasted:

“Our connection with soldiers goes as far back as the country, and even further. We see a mission and need to continue to provide our soldiers with support, to enhance their quality of life and service conditions, and sweeten their special moments. We have adopted the Golani reconnaissance platoon… [and the] Southern Shualei Shimshon troops from the Givati platoon with the goal of improving their service conditions and being there at the front to spoil them with our best products.”

Their website still proclaims support for the Givati and Golani brigades of the IDF.

Historically, the Israeli army has been a consistent violator of human rights and international law. But even by the abysmal standards of the Israeli army, Israel’s “elite” Golani Brigade has a history of severe human rights abuses against Palestinian people.

Here is a brief, by no means comprehensive, report on the “special moments” of the soldiers of the Golani and Givati brigades which Max Brenner and Strauss Group want to “sweeten”.

Golani Brigade

Lebanon 1982

In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon. Between September 16 and 18 the Golani Brigade surrounded the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps. The soldiers allowed right wing militias into the camp to carry out mass executions of Palestinian refugees; Golani soldiers even launched flares at night to provide illumination for the death squads. The United Nations General Assembly resolved “that the massacre was an act of genocide.”[1] Over the course of those three days 3,500 Palestinians were killed.

Janet Lee Stevens, an American journalist, later wrote to her husband, Dr. Franklin Lamb:

“I saw dead women in their houses with their skirts up to their waists and their legs spread apart; dozens of young men shot after being lined up against an alley wall; children with their throats slit, a pregnant woman with her stomach chopped open, her eyes still wide open, her blackened face silently screaming in horror; countless babies and toddlers who had been stabbed or ripped apart and who had been thrown into garbage piles.”[2]

Jenin 2002

In 2002 the Golani Brigade led an offensive against the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. As part of their offensive, gunship helicopters bombarded the camp while heavily armoured bulldozers were used to demolish hundreds of homes. Moshe Nissim, a bulldozer driver under the command of the Golani Brigade, demolished Palestinian homes for 75 hours. He described with pride how he buried Palestinians alive:

“I am sure people died inside these houses, but it was difficult to see, there was lots of dust everywhere, and we worked a lot at night. I found joy with every house that came down, because I knew they didn’t mind dying, but they cared for their homes. If you knocked down a house, you buried 40 or 50 people for generations. If I am sorry for anything, it is for not tearing the whole camp down.”[3]

A British forensic expert who was part of an Amnesty International team granted access to Jenin on April 18, 2002 said:

“The evidence before us at the moment doesn’t lead us to believe that the allegations are anything other than truthful and that therefore there are large numbers of civilian dead underneath these bulldozed and bombed ruins that we see.”[4]

Amnesty said complete destruction affected 164 houses with 374 apartment units, and that other buildings had been partially destroyed.[5]

Givati Brigade

Murder of Iman Darweesh Al Hams

An officer of the Givati Brigade murdered a 13-year-old Palestinian child at a checkpoint on 5 October 2004, in Rafah in the Gaza Strip.

According to a witness, “Israeli soldiers stormed the area, the girl left the bag and tried to run. Bullets hit the (girl’s) bag and then soldiers opened fire on the girl.”[6] Palestinian witnesses reported that it was more than an hour before Israeli troops would allow medics to evacuate the body in an ambulance.[7] At least 15 bullets were found in the girl’s body by Palestinian hospital officials.[8]

While Iman was lying wounded about 70 metres from the Israeli guard post, the commander fired two bullets at her head from close range. The commander returned to her body again, put his weapon on the automatic setting, and emptied his entire magazine into her body.[7]

Zeitoun District Massacre, Gaza 2009

The invasion of Gaza was the most horrific act committed by Israel in recent times. In 30 days, the Israeli army killed over 1,300 Palestinians and destroyed 4,000 homes. In addition, 24 mosques, 34 health facilities and over 50 United Nations facilities sustained damage.[9]

The Givati Brigade led the ground assault on Gaza. One of the gravest events of the invasion of Gaza was the Zeitoun District Massacre.

In January of 2009 the Givati Brigade attacked the town of Zeitoun in Gaza. On 4 January 2009, the first day of the Israeli incursion in the Zeitoun district, Givati soldiers ordered 100 members of the Samouni clan into a single building, which was bombed shortly after.[10] Depending which account you read, between 29 and 48 members of the extended Samouni family were killed.[10, 11, 12, 14]

The same day, Israeli soldiers entered a house and deliberately shot at unarmed Palestinians.[12] A man presented his ID to the IDF and identified himself as the owner of the house. After he told them that he had children and pleaded for them to hold their fire, they shot him repeatedly, about 20-30 times. He was killed, along with his 4-year-old son.[11]

In another incident, a witness reported that after forcing 45 other members of the Samouni clan into one room, the IDF blindfolded and cuffed eight male members of the family and subsequently interrogated them. The family were then ordered outside, and soldiers ordered three of the men to “Walk to Gaza City and don’t come back.” During the pleas of the men’s wives, a soldier shot one of the men as they were leaving.[13]

The houses that Givati soldiers had occupied were covered with anti-Arab graffiti.[11, 12, 14] Among the slogans written in Hebrew were “Death to Arabs” and “The Only Good Arab is a Dead Arab.” One slogan, “1 is down, 999,999 to go”, refers to Gaza’s Palestinian population of one million people.

Max Brenner: you can’t sweeten Israeli apartheid!

Max Brenner’s unashamed support for the murderous thugs of the Israeli occupying forces makes it a legitimate enterprise to expose. They want to make war crimes palatable. The whole world should know just how ugly Israeli apartheid is – and exactly who contributes to or benefits from it.

Upcoming Boycott events

Brisbane: Boycott Max Brenner protest, 1pm Saturday 27 August. Meet at the park on the corner of Maryvale & Glenelg st, South Brisbane.

Melbourne: Boycott Max Brenner protest, 5:30pm Friday 9 September. Meet at the State Library of Victoria.

Adelaide: Free speech, Free Palestine protest, 5:30pm Friday 9 September. Meet at Parliament House, North Terrace.

Sydney: Boycott Max Brenner protest, 1pm Saturday 10 September. Meet outside Newtown Neighbourhood Centre.

Perth: Boycott apartheid Israel, 1pm Saturday 17 September. Meet at Murray Street Mall.


[1] UN General Assembly, Resolution 37/123.

[2] Dr. Franklin Lamb’s letter, “Remembering Janet Lee Stevens, martyr for the Palestinian refugees”.

[3] Yediot Aharonot, 31 May 2002.

[4] “Jenin ‘massacre evidence growing’”, BBC News, 18 April 2002.

[5] Philip C. Winslow, Victory for us is to see you suffer: In the West Bank with the Palestinians and the Israelis, Beacon Press, p.221, fn.4.

[6] “Israeli troops probed for killing child”, Al-Jazeera, 13 October 2004.

[7] “Israelis probe Gaza girl shooting”, BBC News, 11 October 2004.

[8] “Israeli officer charged over slain Gaza girl”, CBC News, 22 November 2004.

[9] UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “Protection of Civilians Weekly Report”, 16-20 January 2009.

[10] Taghreed El-Khodary, “For Arab Clan, Days of Agony in a Cross-Fire”, New York Times, 19 January 2009.

[11] Rod Nordland, “The Smell Of Death”, Newsweek, 19 January 2009.

[12] Tim Butcher, “Gaza: Palestinian family mourns 48 dead”, Telegraph, 19 January 2009.

[13] Elliott Woods, “Zeitoun becomes a symbol”, Globalpost, 22 January 2009.

[14] Rory McCarthy, “Amid dust and death, a family’s story speaks for the terror of war”. Guardian, 19 January 2009.



Comment from Wendy
Time September 1, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Hey candy ass, you forget to defend the killing of 176 women anc children in suicide attacks by Hamas – but you wouldn’t know what that looks like cause you’re a coward who lets other men fight for your right to free speech.

Back to the hen house my brave Digger.

Comment from Dave
Time September 2, 2011 at 8:53 am

John, I thought your readers might be interested to know that the anti-BDS counter-protesters in Brisbane last weekend included members of the far Right wing ‘Australian Patriots Defence Movement’ and that open admirers of Hitler will be mobilising against the BDS rallies in Sydney and Melbourne in the coming weeks. My question to any opponents of the BDS campaign is, how can you stand shoulder to shoulder with openly anti-semitic fascist elements?

Comment from Terrance
Time September 2, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Thanks for posting this, it’s quite informative. I’d be keen to see what other companies sponsor or support various armies. McDonald’s is a big backer of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, so too Starbucks, so they’d be an equally worthwhile target of protest.

And Australian defence force contractors help make some of the body armour worn by Israeli army and they must be a more high profile group to rally against than the Brenner shops if you’re going to get coverage and on the news and make a difference.

I’ve been on heaps of demos John, love them actually, as long as they don’t get too much biff and bash. We did some doozies against logging in North west Tassie that almost got to riot stage. Those loggers are mean bastards. If it was me, I’d be aiming a bit higher and more profile, like the Embassy or our defence forces or the like. Not much fun in yellign abuse at a small business when there are bigger fish to fry.


Comment from Wen*y’s Friend
Time September 2, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Upcoming Boycott events:

Brisbane: Boycott John Pissant protest, 1pm Saturday 27 August. Meet ina telephone booth.

Melbourne: Boycott leafy lefties protest, 5:30pm Friday 9 September. Meet at the Club X Adult Bookstore.

Adelaide: Free speech, Free Hamas terrorists protest, 5:30pm Friday 9 September. Meet at the chop shop.

Sydney: Boycott China over Tibet … oops, we mean Syria, no Russia over Chechneya … sorry Israel, 1pm Saturday 10 September. Meet outside the Mosque .

Perth: Boycott apartheid Australia, 1pm Saturday 17 September. Meet inside your own mind.

Comment from Interesting Bystander
Time September 2, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Is there any significance to the anti-fungal cream gel advert that’s running on this page? I get American Express and Jeef Cheroke – fine capitalism and corporate citizens, but a fungal gel?

Comment from Wendy
Time September 3, 2011 at 8:23 am

Why is the internal activities of a foreign government the main concern of the socialst alternative in Australia? Why arn’t you protesting the 1000 jobs lost in your steel industry insteam of yelling abuse at a Kit Kat salesman?

Comment from Terrance
Time September 3, 2011 at 12:28 pm

John, FYI from today’s Australian:

A FEW weeks ago it was a chocolate shop in Melbourne, targeted by pro-Palestinian activists because it is part of an Israeli chain. On Thursday night it was the Royal Albert Hall in London, where about 30 demonstrators disrupted a Proms concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. So noisy were they that the BBC had to interrupt its coverage twice, although the orchestra, under the baton of one of the world’s leading conductors, Zubin Mehta, kept on and managed to play all four pieces on the program, including Max Bruch’s violin concerto No 1 in G Minor.

It may be that music calms the savage beast, but some of the most sublime music in the civilised world could not tame the brutish, selfish arrogance of an ill-mannered, unrepresentative minority. Their action represents a dark moment in public culture and civility and does nothing to further their cause. We have said before that, given the history of Nazi Germany, there is something deeply offensive about targeting Jewish businesses. That is equally the case for these latest attacks on an Israeli orchestra that adds to the extraordinary contribution Jewish musicians and composers have made to classical music. The terrible events of May 1933, when more than 25,000 books were burnt on huge public bonfires in Berlin, were directed at Jewish intellectuals and the culture they had helped build in Germany. That night, and the cultural “cleansing” that followed, remains a deeply distressing reminder of the collapse of the basic values that must underpin a civilised society. To see culture, which should be above partisan politics, attacked as it was in London is alarming. That it should happen at the Proms, perhaps the world’s best-known classical music festival, dating back to 1895 and with broad appeal, is doubly upsetting. The Proms represent the tolerance and inclusion that are the best hope for world peace.

If we were a British newspaper, we would be urging readers to patronise the Albert Hall at every opportunity. Instead, we suggest you frequent the Max Brenner chocolate shop chain and take a stand against the appalling campaign being waged against Israel. The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is misguided and counterproductive. The protesters have a right to express their views on Israel, but they lose respect and influence when they engage in such crude and uncivilised action.

Comment from John
Time September 4, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Yes, the people who raise the Nazi boycott are also the same people who argue to turn the boats back or stop the boats. I remember the St Louis in the 30s. they are the same people who march with fascists. They are the same people who imprison Palestinians in Gaza, who invade and kill. The crude and uncivilised behaviour is the activity of the Israelis and their ongoing genocide against Palestinians. That’s why we target business and cultural activity with close ties to the killing machine.
The arguments against BDS were the very same arguments the apologists for that other colonial settler state dictatorship made against boycotting South Africa.

Comment from John
Time September 4, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Because they are not Kit Kat salesmen; the multi-national Strauss group materially support the genocide of Palestinians. But given your incredible abuse over the last few posts I am going to ban you from now on. Your behaviour is intolerable. A small example of what Zionism thinks like and does every day to Palestinians. My blog; my rules. Fuck off Wendy.

Comment from Jason Coggins
Time September 4, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Thank you John. Today I protested in Melbourne the sickening young Liberals as they lorded it up outside Max Bremner. I channeled the images your well researched accounts of atrocities invoked – Atrocities that go noticeably unmentioned in the media today – AND shouted all the louder.

Comment from Terrance
Time September 5, 2011 at 7:00 am

Jason, I have made this argument with John before, and while I often agree with his views, on this one we are at odds.

As an older bloke whose been on plenty of demos and protests (probably when you were still in nappies), tell me how abusing a small business owner does jack for changing Israeli’s policies?

You see mate, in Tassie we learnt that if you went after the logging bloke, the man who owned the trucks or the bulldozers, first you cost them, their wives and kids their income (and they are working class men just trting to eek out a living) and second, you let the Gunns of this world off scott free.

So Jason, why didn’t you protest outside the Israeli Embassy? Or El Al airlines? Or the ADF who work and train with the Israeli army? What did you achieve mate? Let’s say this Brenner store closes down as a result of your protest, so what? Is the Israeli Governent going to suddenly grant a statehood because of this? I don’t think so. South Africa was about sporting boycotts, thyat hurt. As far as I can tell, this Brenner isn’t owned by the Israel government.

As I watch the news – civil war in Syria with thousands dead, the Saudi regime continuing to deny human rights, China, Burma, Nth Korea, the f**king Sudanese militia starving millions to death … and then I look back home and what’s the main of protest – a bloke running a little shop selling chocolates.

Jason, I want to see change in Palestine. But this type of student protest is not just misguided and dumb, it gives the other side every bit of ammo to show the protesters are rat bags and worse. Trust me son, it’s what happened in Tassie until we learnt whom to target and how.

Cheers Terrance

Comment from John
Time September 5, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Terrance, you should get your facts right. The Israeli based Strauss group (which owns Max Brenner) is a multinational group, not a small business owner. It supports the most vicious sections of the Israeli Defence Force. It is not just students. It is a worldwide movement. For example the Victorian Trades hall Council supports it. So too does the Council of South African Trade Unions. Hardly ratbags unless you want to tar the anti-apartheid fighters with that nonsense description. And by the way, there is no such person as Max Brenner, contrary to the Australian’s fake interview with him. Why target Zionism? Because as David Harvey wrote the Middle East is the spigot of US imperialism and undermining its attack dog there opens up the possibility of undermining it and its power around the globe. It also gives us the opportunity to point out the ongoing genocide in Palestine. Imperialism is the root cause of the other issues you mention. For example undermining US imperialism undermines the Saudi and Bahrain regimes and helps their peoples on the road to rebellion for freedom and food, justice and jobs. And the relationship is dialectical. Strengthening the Arab spring undermines Israel which strengthens the revolutions. Undermining Israel loosens US control of the region which in turn helps the oppressed around the world.

Comment from Terrance
Time September 6, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Hey John, no probs with your argument about Zionism and all that. Pretty much agree on that front but let me run a couple of things by you by way of intellectual banter.

Frank Lowy owns Westfield, right. He gives millions to Israel. Every time you or I shop in a Westfield, we’re indirectly sending money to Israel, and probably the Israeli army or their support network or structures. Wouldn’t Westfield be a better target, but lets face it,, I’ll bet a six pack of the coldest Boag’s that you’ve shopped in a Westfield centre. Am I due some fine brew?

I remmeber the Springbok demos well. My older brother was at the Brisbane riot against them. That had meaning, it hurt the Nationalist Party. You’re not going to undermine Netenyahu by yelling abuse at a small business – you need to go for something that matters, some embodiement of the government and the regime. As you admit, Brenner isn’t even state owned or run. It’s like Maccas – a better target too seeing as how they supply US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Mate, my issue is not with your cause, it’s with the soft target and small business. To me, it’s insignificant, trite even. Waters down the issue and makes everyone look like bullies – I saw the images of a bunch of blokes yelling and swearing and screaming. I’ve done the same plenty of times, but here it’s not the Embassy or the national state owned symbol. And if you are going to target Brenner, why now Lowy and Westfield?

So I’m just saying, if you’re fair dinkum, boycott Westfield and all the shops inside each centre.


Comment from John
Time September 7, 2011 at 5:27 pm

It is not a small business. The Strauss group, which owns the Max Brenner chain, is an Israeli multinational which gives direct support to Israeli killers.

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