Misrepresenting the Melbourne Rally

To the journalists who report on these issues, please, do not give undue moral status to those who wish the Jewish Community, your fellow Australians, harm.

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

The media coverage of the Rally against Antisemitism yesterday in Melbourne is a very sad reflection of:

1. the media’s ratings-chasing desire to create shock and excitement where there was so little,

2. the moral equivalence they assigned to ‘both sides’,

3. misreporting our Rally as a rally for Israel.

Let’s be very clear and clean up this wanton and dangerous disregard for what actually happened, and the consequences of this misreporting.

Somewhere between 7000-10000 people held a peaceful Rally Against Antisemitism outside the Victorian Parliament House. It’s sole purpose was for Non-Jews and Jews to stand together in the face of the assault – yes, assault – the Jewish community has been experiencing by those who want to blame Melbourne Jews for what is happening in Gaza.

It was a rally called “Stop The Hate Mate”.

The Rally featured more flags of Australia than Israel flags.

Sunday’s in the city feature weekly 10am demonstrations by ProHamas and ProPalestinian demonstrators, as is their right.

I walked through their Rally, which had been delayed to coincide with the Rally Against Antisemitism.

As I was walking through the thought occurred to me it would be really wonderful if everyone at that demonstration came to join their Jewish brothers and sisters at our Rally, standing together against the scourge of Antisemitism. That if these people truly were not Antisemitic, they would come, stand together for our joint security and well being. We do not, and probably will never agree on the Gaza-Palestine-Israel conundrum, but that is OK. Empathy means seeking to understanding the other – agreement is optional.

I did not see any Australian flag at this demonstration. Not one.

This was the one week – the only one in 6 months – where those standing to support the Jewish community rallied in the same city at 1.30pm. Different site and different time. All planned to avoid incident.

Given the track record aggressive nature of the ProHamas/Palestinian demonstrations, and their varied assault on the Jews of Melbourne, it was clear there would be a counter demonstration. Indeed, a poster circulated on social media calling people to a counter-rally, with the astoningishly antisemitic image of a boot stomping on a Star of David.

The demonstrators against our Rally Against Antisemitism tried to drown us out with drums, whistles and screaming. They screamed and kicked people who had parked on their side and tried to make their way through to our Rally.

There were many police. It was visibly clear without any doubt their job was to keep the angry haters away from us.

All this puts the lie to those who say they are Antizionist but not Antisemitic.

But the journalists present decided to report this as a two-sided affair. Worse, that we held a pro Israel rally, which it was clearly not meant to be about. It was about us – the Jewish Community of Melbourne – whose kids are being targeted on campus, whose creatives are being doxed, whose businesses are being targeted, whose Synagogues have been targeted and are now more securely guarded, and whose Schools have armed guards.

And whose preachers have not once or will not ever call for hate against fellow Australians who are Muslim.

Moral equivalence?

To the journalists who report on these issues, please, do not give undue moral status to those who wish the Jewish Community, your fellow Australians, harm.

Of course we understand the chase for ratings, but that shouldn’t come at our community’s expense. Fear and loathing makes lone wolves do stupid and dangerous things – you have an important role to play in this. We stand or fall together as a decent, caring society.

Adam is Director of the Middle East Forum and currently writing a book on the Israel Hamas War called The Gaslighting of Israel.

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