Kevin Rudd, Australia’s ex-Prime Minister and current Foreign Minister, is either nowhere near as bright as he likes to think he is or he is being deliberately deceitful.
Yesterday, while visiting Melbourne, Rudd stopped off at a café in one of Melbourne’s shopping plazas. Melbourne’s The Age newspaper reported that his choice of cafe was deliberate. Rudd was quoted as saying: ''As an individual citizen - that is me, K. Rudd - I am here because I object to the boycotting of Jewish businesses”.
If Rudd had said he was there because he objected to the boycotting of Israeli businesses then that would have been fine – but he didn’t. He specifically and deliberately said ‘Jewish’ businesses. It was deliberate because he went on to emphasise the point by saying that “anyone with historical memory should deplore boycotts of Jewish businesses”. Rudd, of course, was referring to the way Nazis boycotted Jewish businesses in Germany during the 1930s.
Rudd’s inference here is quite clear; boycotting Jewish businesses is anti-Semitic – and if the businesses were being boycotted simply because they were Jewish, it would indeed be anti-Semitic.
The problem is; this particular business, a Max Brenner Chocolate Bar, was targeted for boycotting recently by pro-Palestinian activists, not because it was a Jewish-owned business, but because it was an Israeli-owned business. The fact that the business also happens to be Jewish-owned is incidental. There are many Jewish-owned businesses all over Australia and not one of them is being boycotted solely because it is Jewish-owned.
There also happens to be another aspect to this story that Rudd hadn’t considered when setting out to take this action.
The Max Brenner chain of businesses is owned by the Israeli-based company the Strauss Group. The Strauss Group is headed up by Michael Strauss. Michael Strauss also happens to be a strong supporter of an Israeli centrist think-tank called the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI).
Recently the extreme right-wing Zionist government led by Benjamin Netanyahu introduced laws in Israel that would ban Israelis from supporting calls for boycotts of Israeli goods and businesses. There has been a backlash against the anti-boycotting law proposal on the grounds that such a move is undemocratic – and the IDI has come out very strongly in support of the move to defeat the new anti-boycotting laws.
Rudd’s attempt at invoking Nazi era anti-Semitism in order to promote Zionism is transparently inappropriate and utterly deceitful – not to mention as in this case, totally misplaced considering that the head of the company that owns the cafe Rudd stopped at effectively supports the right to boycott.