The ugly clash between pro-Palestinian demonstrators and local residents in Caulfield on Friday night has been widely condemned by political leaders.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described the incident as a provocation, saying, “I condemn unequivocally the decision by some to have a demonstration in Caulfield on Friday night, as I condemn unequivocally the decision to ride motorbikes through the eastern suburbs of Sydney.”
Federal opposition leader Peter Dutton labelled the behaviour disgusting, saying the Jewish community is rightly scared for its safety.
Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan responded the next day by saying “It is unacceptable that local communities here feel it is unsafe to go to their places of worship, to feel unsafe in their local neighbourhoods”.
Victorian Opposition Leader John Pesutto condemned the violence, saying Australia upholds stringent anti-religious vilification laws, and it is imperative that these laws are enforced.
Josh Burns, MP for Macnamara has met with Allan, Victoria Police, CSG Victoria, federal agencies and Ministers to ensure the Jewish Community is protected.
Caulfield MP David Southwick said, “To enter the heart of Melbourne’s Jewish community, terrorise people outside their synagogue, and throw rocks at Jews is appalling beyond words.”
Jewish Community Council of Victoria president Daniel Aghion labelled the behaviour at the protest “utterly contemptible”.
“A synagogue president told us ‘last night left a terrible feeling in our hearts’. He is right,” Aghion said.
He has met with Premier Jacinta Allan, Deputy Premier Ben Carroll and senior police, telling that things need to change.
“I expect them to redouble their efforts to ensure we never see anything like that in Melbourne’s Jewish community ever again,” he said.
Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein said, “The attempt by some to bizarrely link these violent scenes to Islamophobia is misleading and whitewashes what actually happened. It was an attack on the Jewish community in the heart of their community.”
Rubinstein said it was a vile attempt by pro-Palestinian protestors to intimidate Jews in their homes and in their places of worship on the Jewish Sabbath.
“The decision by pro-Palestinian protestors to go to the heart of Jewish Melbourne was provocative, disrespectful and completely at odds with the principles of democratic, multicultural Australia,” he said.
Zionism Victoria condemned the violence and intimidation on Friday night, and said they are deeply distressed that a synagogue had to be evacuated and services abandoned because of the threat posed by pro-Palestinian protestors.
President Yossi Goldfarb lamented, “How have we reached a situation in multicultural Melbourne that Jews are unable to attend prayer services at their synagogues on a Friday night or that members of our community should face taunts and abuse on the streets where they live?
“It is deeply distressing and disturbing that these demonstrators came to Caulfield on the Jewish Sabbath, spurred on by malicious and baseless rumours about who was responsible for the fire at Burgertory.”
He added that Zionism Victoria vociferously condemns any and all acts of violence against persons or property, and any and all acts of incitement.