Federal Liberal MP Julian Leeser has called on the NSW Parliament to censure Jenny Leong after the Greens MP was accused of using one of the oldest antisemitic tropes in a recently surfaced video.
Speaking on a panel at a Palestine Justice Movement event late last year, the Newtown MP referred to the “tentacles” the “Jewish lobby” uses to “influence power”.
“The Jewish lobby and the Zionist lobby are infiltrating into every single aspect of what is ethnic community groups,” Leong said.
“Their tentacles reach into the areas that try and influence power, and I think that we need to call that out and expose it.”
The use of the term “tentacles” echoes a Nazi-era cartoon depicting Jewish people as an octopus with tentacles reaching across the globe.
Leeser said if Leong was an “MP for a mainstream party” he would call on her to apologise for her comments, but given she is a Green, “she will probably be promoted”.
“Jenny Leong wants to silence Jewish Australians and to remove any Jewish influence in politics, the arts and philanthropy. She believes Jewish Australians have no place in our national life. This is the Greens.”
Federal Labor MP Josh Burns said Leong’s comments were a “direct attack on Jewish people in Australia” and called on the Greens leadership to show that Jewish people in Australia “are safe and respected by their party”.
“The Jewish community deserves better than to be attacked and vilified by a Greens MP,” Burns said.
“By suggesting Jewish community organisations join other ethnic groups to influence and control them, Ms Leong has depicted Jewish people in a manner that has no place in a multicultural and diverse Australia.”
Wentworth MP Allegra Spender called on Leong to “rethink her behaviour”.
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies president David Ossip accused Leong of using the “oldest and darkest antisemitic tropes to accuse Jews of covertly manipulating civic life”.
Leong went on to issue a loaded statement that sought to minimise her antisemitic remarks.
“I acknowledge that I used a word at one point that was an inappropriate descriptor for the influence of groups backing Netanyahu’s genocidal attacks in Gaza and the ongoing occupation – I apologise that this has caused offence,” Leong said.
“It is incredibly telling that after a conversation where myself and other speakers made countless mentions of the genocidal attacks and occupation occurring in Gaza right now, that two months later more focus isn’t being put on the deaths of over 26,000 people, many of them children.”
In his Victorian Parliament motion on Wednesday morning, Caulfield MP David Southwick called on Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam “to immediately denounce the language of her NSW colleague”.