Council workers in the cities of Stonnington and Glen Eira have been observed systematically tearing down posters bearing the photos and names of Israelis kidnapped by Hamas.
One local government leader has stated they are being removed because some people are concerned about the posters being confronting or offensive.
Glen Eira mayor Jim Magee insisted his city is the cultural home of Melbourne’s Jewish community, and it stands with the people of Israel.
He noted, “At its most recent meeting, Council carried a motion condemning the barbarous atrocities perpetrated by the terrorist group Hamas in Israel and expressing its deepest condolences to those slaughtered, injured or impacted.”
But, he said, at some council facilities in recent days, posters have been put up which have attracted concern due to language around brutality, murder, beatings and rape.
“To create a safe and inclusive environment for all service users, Council has been respectfully removing any posters which use confronting or offensive language,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Stonnington City Council CEO, Dale Dickson, said his council is simply enforcing the law which prescribes that its public infrastructure is kept free of any poster, irrespective of its content, unless its prior approval is granted.
He denied what he described as public and media comment that the council had taken sides in the Gaza conflict and had acted in an inconsistent and even discriminatory way.
“It is quite possible that inconsistencies will be evident from time to time – it is simply impossible to conduct a visual inspection of all Council infrastructure every day, such that all material is identified and removed daily,” he said.
In this particular case, he said the council acted in accordance with its local law, and without regard to the content of the posters in question.
Marcia Griffin, a City of Stonnington councillor, said she felt devastated for those Jewish residents who understandably have been upset.
“A permit is required for posters, but I can only say that having put up a motion to light up the town hall, which was unanimously supported at the last council meeting, please understand the council has demonstrated its support for our Jewish residents and opposition to the horrendous actions of Hamas,” she said.