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Dandenong Council vote

Flag decision ‘common sense’

Liberal councillor Tim Dark said councillors had received over 1100 emails in the last four days, and people had been raising significant concerns.

Jewish demonstrators outside the Greater Dandenong City Council offices on Monday night. Photo: Danny Mayer
Jewish demonstrators outside the Greater Dandenong City Council offices on Monday night. Photo: Danny Mayer

A motion to continue flying the Palestinian flag by the Greater Dandenong City Council was defeated by seven votes to two on Monday night.

Several councillors spoke against the motion, put forward by Greens councillor Rhonda Garad and former mayor Jim Memeti, saying it would make the public think the council was supporting one community against the other.

Liberal councillor Tim Dark said councillors had received over 1100 emails in the last four days, and people had been raising significant concerns.

He read from a letter sent to the council at the end of last year from Victorian local government minister Melissa Horne which urged it not to get involved in foreign affairs.

“The Israeli and Hamas conflict is a complex global situation that needs to be negotiated by world leaders and not the Victorian local government sector,” the letter said.

The sponsors of the motion immediately launched an attempt to have it put forward again in two weeks’ time.

Pro-Palestinian groups have announced demonstrations to overturn the decision, labelling the council on social media as “clearly corrupted by Zionist lobbying”.

Around 10 protesters from the Jewish community were outside the council building along with a similar number of pro-Palestinians.

Spokesperson Maaian Galant said there were about triple the number of police than demonstrators and they escorted them back to their cars afterwards.

“That is the level we are in right now as Australians and the reason is because we are not standing proud and loud and doing more advocacy,” she said.

Jewish Community Council of Victoria CEO Naomi Levin welcomed the defeat of the motion as a reflection of common sense.

She said the impact the motion, and an earlier one about Gaza, has had on Jewish people who live and work in the area had been significant.

“Councillors themselves acknowledge that these motions have even left council staff feeling unsafe,” she said.

“We are pleased that an increasing number of councillors from across Victoria are reaching out to the JCCV to try and better understand the sentiment and situation of our Jewish community.”

Anti-Defamation Commission chair Dvir Abramovich described the result as a victory for people power.

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