Tribute on parliament lawns360 victims of the Nova Festival massacre

Israelis make the case

The installation was organised by Sydney-based Together With Israel in coordination with the Canberra Jewish community.

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

The lawns in front of Parliament House in Canberra were transformed into a moving tribute to the 360 victims of the Nova Festival massacre last Wednesday.

The installation was organised by Sydney-based Together With Israel in coordination with the Canberra Jewish community. The numbers “6:29”, representing the time sadistic terrorists infiltrated the gathering on October 7, stood alongside portraits of the victims of Hamas’ brutality. Poppies honoured those who lost their lives and yellow ribbons represented those still held hostage in Gaza.

A bus left Sydney at 5.30am to ferry the activists and their supporters to the capital.

Speakers at a press conference included Magen David Adom first responder Hadas Erlich, Zach Shachar, the Australian relative of hostage Naama Levy, and University of Sydney student Dror Liraz. Israeli Ambassador Amir Maimon also attended.

Representatives also held several private meetings with politicians to discuss issues including the threat of extremist groups in Australia, antisemitism on campus and other challenges faced by the Jewish community.

It was the third time Together With Israel has visited Canberra “which is pretty incredible,” representative Hagit Ashual told The AJN.

“Having those conversations as Israelis, gives another perspective to our story,” she said.

“I think that we bring something else to the table that is authentic. We have served in the army, lived through rocket attacks, experienced wars and intifada. So we tell the story a little bit differently.”

Ashual said highlights included talking to Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton.

“Mark Dreyfus listened to our overall concerns and in particular the rise of extremist Islamic groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir and said he will look into it further. So I think he was very responsive,” she said.

“We are also working closely with other politicians and providing them with information about Hizb ut-Tahrir and the misuse of UNWRA’s money, so they can continue to advocate for us with the power of knowledge.

“I think as a whole, what we’ve achieved is remarkable. Making these connections has allowed us to be a genuine and effective influence on the current dialogue.”

Ashual said the group did try engage with Greens politicians, “however they declined our offer”.

But those politicians the group did speak to and who visited the installation were moved.

Senator James Paterson told of visiting the Nova site earlier this year.

“We can never forget what Hamas did on that day, and we must continue to stand with our friend Israel and with our Australian Jewish community until every single one of those hostages is released, and the threat of Hamas is removed,” he said.

Noting that there are “still 120 hostages somewhere in Gaza,” Member for Berowra Julian Leeser spoke from the installation in an Instagram video with Together with Israel’s Avi Efrat.

Member for Macnamara Josh Burns said the installation “was very moving”.

“It was a poignant reminder of the fact that there are still people held in Gaza … it was a reminder of the beautiful free spirits who at 6.29 on October 7 [had] their lives turned inside out, and the dream of dancing freely a music festival turned into a nightmare,” he said.

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