Residents gathered outside Sydney City Council to protest the decision to raise the Israeli flag, sparking outrage from some.
Earlier this year, the Randwick City Council voted to raise a flag above City Hall on April 26 to celebrate Israel’s 75th anniversary of independence.
On Tuesday night, the council rejected an emergency motion to overturn the decision, but responded to calls of “shame” by some members of the public in attendance.
Opponents of raising the flag say doing so would be an affront to Australia’s equality and pluralist values, along with ongoing allegations of Israeli human rights abuses against Palestinians.
Yahya Shehabi, who lives in Maroubra, Palestine, said she was appalled by the council’s decision to raise the Israeli flag.
“It will tell you, implicitly or explicitly, that the council condones the actions of the most right-wing government in Israel’s history,” Professor Shehabi said.
“I have many Jewish friends and medical colleagues. We share many values about life and humanity, but Israel does not share those values.”
Darren Burke, CEO of the NSW Jewish Delegates, said Israel’s 1948 Independence Day was a historic occasion to promote inclusiveness to the region’s large Jewish population. As a message, the Randwick Council firmly supported raising the Israeli flag.
“New South Wales and Israel share a warm and long-lasting relationship based on shared values,” Burke said.
“The fluttering of the Israeli flag emphasizes that everyone is welcome, regardless of our background, faith or language, and that we have a place to call home in a united, multicultural nation.”
Michelle Bercon, a Jew living in Maroubra, said the flag did not represent her contribution to herself or her community.
“I am the descendant of a Holocaust survivor who embodied a Jewishness that was the exact opposite of Israeli atrocities against Palestinians,” she said.
At the request of residents, including Palestinians, Jews, Christians and human rights defenders, the Australian-Palestinian Advocacy Network supported the protests and helped draw attention to them.
The motion to raise the flag voted in parliament in February also included a letter to the New South Wales Jewish Deputies and other prominent Jewish leaders, urging the Jewish community to reach Randwick City. I acknowledge your contribution.
The motion was passed 10 to 4, with one of them opposing deputy mayor and Green MP Rafaela Pandolfini.
Green Party councilors Kim Chapple, Michael Olive and Philippa Beich also voted against the motion.
Pandolfini said flying another country’s flag over the city hall should be carefully considered given the potential harm to community members.
“This proposal is particularly troubling given recent events in Israel, such as the attack on the Al-Aqsa mosque and the current right-wing government’s assault on the judiciary,” she said.
At the same meeting, the Board voted in favor of raising the Greek flag on 25 March to celebrate Greece’s 202nd anniversary of independence.
https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/2023/04/18/backlash-randwick-council-plan-israeli-flag/ Randwick Council Protests Against Plan To Raise Israeli Flag