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‘Would you let Hamas babysit your children?’

Actors portraying adult and young hostages stood alongside counterparts, dressed as Hamas members, creating a visual representation of the ordeal faced by hostages.

Photo: Peter Haskin
Photo: Peter Haskin

Around 60 members of the activist group, J-Unite demonstrated in the heart of Melbourne at lunchtime on Thursday to raise awareness of the hostages in Gaza.

One of the organisers, Maaian Galant, says it was designed to be on the smaller side, as it was a consciousness raising activity rather than a large demonstration.

Actors portraying adult and young hostages stood alongside counterparts, dressed as Hamas members, creating a visual representation of the ordeal faced by hostages.

Each hostage had a sign asking a question: Would you let Hamas take care of your grandmother? Would you let Hamas date your sister? Would you let Hamas babysit your children?

Galant said they had ambassadors engaging with the lunchtime crowds in the Bourke Street Mall, and while some of the comments were negative, many others were quite positive.

“We’ve had two gatherings, one in Fed Square and one near the Botanical Gardens, but this is the first time we’re in Bourke Street. And we are going to keep being in the city because we need to show our faces and we need to be proud and loud” Galant said.

There were some positive interactions with the lunchtime crowd in Bourke St, with several people wanting to know more about the plight of the hostages.

Photo: Peter Haskin 

Galant said passersby were asking “What is this, who are these people?” and J-United’s ambassadors were able to give people information, such as it was baby Kfir Bibas’s first birthday that day, and he was still held captive by Hamas.

Some people were less positive, with a few shouts of “Free Palestine”.

One woman got into a heated argument with J-United member Jocelyn Schiftan, arguing that Israel was committing war crimes and shouting loudly  “You’re all going to the Hague!” before walking away.

Galant believes it’s important that the Jewish community not be afraid and future events will be organised in Melbourne’s CBD.

“I ask you to stop hiding. I know it is difficult. I know it is hard. I know it is not easy. But…if we stand strong, proud and loud, we will be able to overcome this together and antisemitism will not exist in Australia” Galant said.

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