An event organised by the Australian Palestine Advocacy Network to mark Palestine National Day last month was changed to a vigil, but the arrangement for the Palestinian flags to be flown, which was made a year earlier, remained unchanged.
The state Liberal MP said it was an inappropriate decision against the backdrop of the very recent and highly sensitive conflict unfolding in the Middle East.
“Federation Square is a state government-owned asset at the very heart of our capital city and it must be a welcoming space for all of Victoria’s communities. The management team at Federation Square should have had the awareness and perception to understand how their decision was a divisive act at a time when sensitivity and respect are desperately needed,” she said.
Wilson has written to the minister responsible for Federation Square, Treasurer Tim Pallas, to express her grave concern.
“Displaying nine Palestinian flags mere weeks after the worst massacre of Jewish people since the Holocaust by terrorist group Hamas showed extreme insensitivity if not hostility to Melbourne’s Jewish community,” she wrote.
She said members of the Jewish community have told her the decision left them feeling intimidated and unwelcome within Federation Square, as well as in the Victorian community more broadly.
A Victorian government spokesperson earlier responded to questions about the Palestinian flags by saying the event had taken place at Fed Square before, with the same number of flags raised.
Examples of previous vigils at Fed Square include a remembrance of lives lost to family violence (2018), acknowledgement of victims of the war in Ukraine (2022) and to grieve the number of lives lost during the pandemic in India led by Melbourne’s Indian community (2021).
The spokesperson said many cultural festivals and celebrations are held at Fed Square, with some upcoming events including Diwali, a Polish festival, an African cultural and music festival, and Pillars of Light.
Israeli flags flew at Federation Square on Monday.