Jewish groups have responded with disappointment and disagreement to Australia Day protests featuring Palestinian flags and chants.
Thousands of protesters blocked roads outside Victoria’s State Parliament as they chanted, “Abolish the date, abolish the state!” And in Canberra, the entrance to Parliament House was locked down as activists yelled “f**k Israel and f**k Australia”.
Prominent Jewish leader Mark Leibler said Jews and First Nations people have much in common.
“I fully concur with the views of a number of prominent and highly regarded Indigenous leaders such as Marcia Langton and Nova Peris who have made it clear that no legitimate Indigenous leader will permit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to be associated with terrorists such as Hamas, who they roundly condemned,” he said.
“Attempts by extremist pro-Palestinian groups to hijack the cause of Indigenous Australians, as well as their attempt to deny that Jews are indigenous inhabitants of Israel, are both offensive and counterproductive to the interests of Indigenous Australians.”
Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) executive director Colin Rubenstein said Australians almost universally reacted negatively to the radicals chanting “abolish the state”.
“They are getting a tiny taste of the vitriol that Israel has been subject to since 1948, directed not against the Jewish state’s policies or stances, but its very existence,” he said. “AIJAC is … hopeful authorities remain aware of where such radicalism can lead if not monitored carefully and responded to effectively within the context of Australian law.”
Jewish Community Council of Victoria president Philip Zajac said, “These issues are only conflated by those who are misinformed or ignorant.”
Zionism Victoria executive director Zeddy Lawrence cited Aboriginal leader William Cooper’s famous December 1938 march protesting Germany’s persecution of Jews.
“Eighty-five years on, Indigenous protesters chant for the destruction of the Jewish State,” he said.
“Historic ties forged in the flames of Kristallnacht and cemented through Mabo and Reconciliation by Ron Castan and Mark Leibler are being pulled apart by malicious forces misrepresenting history and drawing a corrupt comparison between the Palestinian and Aboriginal experience.”