Flag burnings “disgusting”
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Flag burnings “disgusting”

JEWISH community groups have condemned the burning of an Israeli flag and an Australian flag by pro-Palestinian protesters in the Melbourne CBD.

JEWISH community groups have condemned the burning of an Israeli flag and an Australian flag by pro-Palestinian protesters in the Melbourne CBD.

Demonstrators reportedly stole the Australian flag from a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) office in Lonsdale Street on July 23 before burning it, alongside an Israeli flag, in the foyer of the building.

Members of the group then left the scene quickly but became involved in scuffles with police. About 10 students have been arrested.

Earlier, members of the group chained themselves up outside the DFAT passports office and smeared red paint across its windows.

Jewish Community Council of Victoria president Nina Bassat said: “Burning a national flag of any country is the height of disrespect for that country. When you also burn the flag of the country in which you live, it shows not only disrespect but a high degree of ingratitude.

“Over and above that, I find it a big concern that people cannot protest in a nonviolent, non-aggressive manner, and that they feel the need to resort to this sort of action to express their views,” she told The AJN.

Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Robert Goot described the actions as “a disgraceful way to make a political point. By doing so, the protesters figuratively spat upon every Australian and every Israeli, and their actions will be deeply resented by the vast majority of Australians.”

Jewish students reacted strongly to the flag desecration by other students, with the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) slamming the incident.

“The storming of a government office, theft of goods, and burning of flags is a disgusting and unacceptable act,” said AUJS political affairs director Matthew Lesh.

B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission chair Dr Dvir Abramovich described the flag burning as “part of the firestorm of ugly, violent attacks against Jews and the Jewish State around the world”.

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Dr Colin Rubenstein said: “The stealing and burning of the Australian and Israeli flags is an indication of a disturbingly ­violent mindset that seems to emerge from Israel’s more virulent opponents.”

PETER KOHN

The burnt flags at the Melbourne DFAT office building. Photo: Matthew Lesh, AUJS.

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