GOLDSTEIN MP Zoe Daniel has defended a tweet she made claiming her Jewish constituents “would support” cabinet minister Tony Burke’s endorsement of a Sydney council raising a Palestinian flag during the Gaza war.
On October 27, Daniel shared Burke’s tweet backing Canterbury Bankstown council for flying the Palestinian colours. She posted, “This is a position I support. And I know that many in the large Jewish community that I represent would support it too. Everyone is frightened, everyone is grieving. That pain and fear crosses boundaries beyond Hamas.”
But many in Goldstein – home to many Jewish constituents – chafed at the notion they would support a Palestinian flag to express their sadness at Gazan deaths. It opened old wounds from last year’s election campaign when the independent candidate, formerly an ABC journalist, refused to disassociate from an open letter she signed in 2021 calling for journalists to “express solidarity” with Palestinians.
Jewish Community Council of Victoria president Daniel Aghion told The AJN, “It is true that civilians are dying in Gaza, and that is a tragedy. But the cause of that tragedy is Hamas … Regardless of intention, flying the Palestinian flag now is an act of support for that evil regime.”
Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Alex Ryvchin responded, “It is perfectly reasonable to express concern for civilians impacted by Hamas’s war with Israel but flying the Palestinian flag is insensitive, foolish and inflammatory.”
Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) president Jeremy Leibler said, “Many in the Jewish community find it incredibly insensitive to fly a Palestinian flag within weeks of the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.”
ZFA’s media director Emily Gian, based in Israel, tweeted, “I’ve been getting messages all day from Jews in your electorate – including Jews who voted for you, who defended you to the community – appalled by this position. We are grieving. We are also traumatised. You don’t speak for us.”
Zionism Victoria president Yossi Goldfarb said Daniel “clearly hasn’t read the room if she thinks that ‘many’ of Goldstein’s Jewish voters would support her position”.
After Palestinian flags were flown at Federation Square on Friday, Caulfield MP and state deputy Liberal leader David Southwick said, “I have received hundreds of calls, emails and messages from across the Jewish community and the sentiment is clear: flying these flags is deeply hurtful.”
Claiming her comments “in no way change my wholehearted support for my Jewish constituents”, Daniel responded to The AJN, “The intent of the comments related specifically to Tony Burke’s circumstances as the representative of an area of Sydney with many residents who have a direct Palestinian connection. I do believe that they too need to be seen and need a safe space to grieve in their own peaceful way for their loss.”