A boycott of the Max Brenner chocolate shops in Melbourne, Australia, has escalated, following the July 1 arrest of 19 protestors outside the store and a follow-up protest July 29 that drew 300 people. More than ten of the 19 anti-Israel activists arrested in early July were ordered not to go within 50 meters of the store—so when four of them, active in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, showed up July 29, they were arrested for violating the terms of their bail.
Founded in 1996 in Ra’anana, the Israel-based chain of chocolate specialty cafes has locations around the world and, since 2001, has been part of Israeli food company the Strauss Group. The boycott has drawn the attention of Michael O’Brien, the region’s minister for consumer affairs, who has requested an investigation into whether the boycott violates Australian law.
“According to a press statement O’Brien released, a large number of people gathered outside a Max Brenner store in downtown Melbourne on July 1 ‘preventing potential customers from entering the store as part of an orchestrated campaign to impose a secondary boycott on the commercial activities of businesses with Israeli ownership and that carry on business with the government of Israel.’
‘I am concerned that the persons and organizations who caused these disturbances may have engaged in secondary boycotts for the purpose of causing substantial loss or damage to Max Brenner’s business,’ O’Brien said.”
Stephanie Butnick is deputy editor of Tablet Magazine and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.