Where is the line on boycotts?

The Australian reports:

ANTI- activists face investigation for alleged secondary boycotts under landmark attempts by the Baillieu government to curb the global campaign to target companies and businesses linked to the Jewish nation.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has been asked to investigate anti-Israeli campaigners who have joined the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions group to determine if they should be prosecuted for threatening stores with Israeli ownership or connections.

The ACCC has been asked to consider injunctive relief and damages after 19 people were arrested following an ugly clash between police and protesters outside the Max Brenner store in Melbourne’s CBD on July 1.

The protesters allegedly blocked potential customers from entering the store as part of an “orchestrated campaign” to impose what the government believes is a secondary boycott on the chocolate and coffee store. …

Mr O’Brien told The Australian it was unacceptable to single out any businesses but that it was especially concerning given the 20th-century history behind attacks on Jewish businesses.

“I am concerned that the persons and organisations who caused these disturbances may have engaged in secondary boycotts for the purpose of causing substantial loss or damage to Max Brenner’s business,” he said. …

The Max Brenner shops have allegedly been targeted by the BDS movement for supplying to the Israeli defence forces.

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd recently met with Victorian federal Labor MP Michael Danby at the same Max Brenner store as the BDS protest. “I don’t think in 21st-century Australia there is a place for the attempted boycott of a Jewish business,” Mr Rudd said at the time. “I thought we had learned that from history.”

Nostradamus highlighted this story to me. He noted:

I think this is a story with potentially huge implications, and that’s not just because I’m a corporate and commercial lawyer.

No surprise that the usual suspects are behind the anti-Israel protest.  I’ve highlighted them below for you.  But, unlike John Minto making a nuisance of himself at a tennis match, these guys are taking things much further: it’s one thing for a person to say “I’m not going to shop at ABC because they support XYZ”; it’s quite another to prevent other law-abiding customers from entering a shop.

All of this raises an interesting philosophical principle.  Even if one sympathises with the BDS movement (which I don’t), how far can they legitimately take their protest?  And how much of a direct link (real or imagined) between a company and Israel does there need to be before the BDS movement gains a semblance of legitimacy?

I think blocking others from entering clearly crosses the line, and good on the Victorian Government for looking at legal action.

And while I can respect the diversity of views on Israel, targeting a shop because they may have sold chocolates to the IDF seems rather over-kill. If they were selling them guns, then I could understand the rationale more.

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