Disgusting act

‘Simply incomprehensible’: Mob demonstrates at hostage families’ hotel

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has condemned the actions of a group of protestors, saying he is "appalled" by them.

The demonstrators at the hotel in Melbourne.
The demonstrators at the hotel in Melbourne.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has condemned the actions of a group of protestors who gathered at a Melbourne hotel where Israeli relatives of Hamas victims and hostages were staying.

The group of Israelis, who are in Australia to raise awareness of Hamas’s crimes and campaign for the release of kidnapped Israelis who are full being held hostage in Gaza, were returning from a Jewish communal event on Wednesday night to find the demonstrators blocking their way.

“What we saw (on Wednesday) night in Melbourne at a hotel in Docklands goes beyond the right of people to peacefully protest in our democratic country,” Albanese said.

“Why people would make the conscious decision to hold the protest … where families of people were staying is beyond my comprehension and beyond contempt. I am appalled by the actions of these protesters and I condemn them.

“At the moment what we are seeing is humanity just cast aside. There is no excuse, no circumstances where people should organise a demonstration against grieving families. None.

“I call it out and I express on behalf of the Australian government our regret to those families who we met with. This is not the Australian way.”

Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Alex Ryvchin declared on Thursday that the “anti-Israel movement is becoming indistinguishable from Neo-Nazism”.

“It is difficult to imagine a more hateful and disgusting act than targeting families of Israeli hostages who are visiting our country to talk about their fear and trauma,” Ryvchin said on social media.

“The anti-Israel movement is becoming indistinguishable from Neo-Nazism in its complete disregard for any norms of decency and their obsession with intimidating and harassing the most vulnerable targets.

“We stand in complete solidarity with the hostage families. They are our families and we assure them that the thuggery that confronted them is no reflection of the decency and humanity of our fellow Australians.”

Zionism Victoria (ZV) president Yossi Goldfarb said, “When does intolerance morph into antisemitism? When people invade the hotel of families who have come to share their stories and speak of hope, only to be met by obscenities and hate. This behaviour must be condemned. It is a cancer on our multicultural society.”

ZV executive director Zeddy Lawrence added, “However misguided or malicious your anti-Israel views may be, you’re entitled to demonstrate, but to purposefully do so right in the face of parents mourning their sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters who have no idea if they’ll ever see their siblings again, displays a horrific and wilful disregard for human suffering, driven by pure antisemitism and a rabid ideology of hate.

“It is simply incomprehensible that people could behave like this and that this could have been allowed to happen.”

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan said, “Yesterday, I met with a mother whose son was murdered. She – like so many others – has experienced the heartbreak that is every mother’s nightmare, at the hands of terrorists.

“I condemn the extreme behaviour on display last night, in the strongest possible terms. I condemn the antisemitism. I condemn targeting people in their moment of grief. Whatever your views, we all expect Victorians to act with decency and humanity.”

Caulfield MP David Southwick said “these anti-Israel bigots have embarrassed us on the world stage”.

“Traumatising the families of Hamas’ victims is despicable. How did this happen? What are the consequences? How can we ensure this never happens again?,” he posted on X.

The Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) also expressed its disgust.

ZFA President Jeremy Leibler said, “There is support for the Palestinian cause, and then there is the vile, cruel intimidation of people whose loved ones have been kidnapped by rapists, murderers and torturers.

“It is absolutely disgusting that anyone would seek to intimidate these relatives, who are already suffering the trauma of having their family members kidnapped or murdered. These protesters need to take a long look in the mirror and ask why they are supporting a terrorist regime.”

Victoria Police said in a statement the group was quickly moved on.

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