“ONE Holocaust doesn’t justify another”, “The whole Palestine is occupied and must be reversed”, “Free Palestine – from the river to the sea” … these were just some of the placards and banners calling for the eradication of Israel and equating Zionism with Nazism seen at pro-Palestinian rallies in Melbourne and Sydney on Saturday.
Thousands took to the streets for the Free Palestine demonstrations, which saw protesters chant “Out, out Israel out”, “Bow down Israel”, and “Gaza, Gaza don’t you cry, Palestine will never die”.
A young girl held a sign stating “Israel is killing children like me”, while other placards accused Israel of apartheid and ethnic cleansing.
Photos from the Sydney rally also show the Israeli flag – but with a swastika instead of the Star of David – attached to the back of a protester, while in another photo a protester waves what appears to be the Fatah flag. There were also reports of Hezbollah flags held aloft.
Speaking to The AJN on Sunday, Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Alex Ryvchin said the scenes at the rallies came as “absolutely no surprise”.
“Support for terrorist organisations, antisemitism both subtle and overt, and explicit calls for the destruction of Israel are permanent fixtures at anti-Israel rallies and in the anti-Israel movement generally,” Ryvchin said.
“This is because visceral hatred for Israel and support for Hamas are invariably born of extremism and racial hatred.”
He added, “As appalled as we are by these public displays, they should serve to educate the public on what the anti-Israel movement represents and what their ultimate goals are: to destroy Jewish life, Jewish equality, and the Jewish national home.”
Massive pro-Palestinian protests in Melbourne and Sydney today. Protesters held signs stating “Get Israel out of Palestine”. #standwithisrael
Stating, “The claim by rally organisers that their concern was for peace or justice should fool nobody,” Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein lamented, “The themes of the rallies were that Israel should not have a right to self-defence and that Israel, as a Jewish state, should be destroyed.
“To witness comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany in Sydney, and hear the promotions of a litany of distortions of history and of the current events was not only disturbing but provided evidence the demonstrators were promoting an agenda inconsistent with the wellbeing of Palestinians, let alone Israelis.”
Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich added, “The right to protest is fundamental to our democracy and criticism of Israeli policy is legitimate, as long as it does not extend into bigotry and blood libels. Accusing Israel of apartheid, of acting like Nazis and perpetrating a Holocaust crosses the line and must be condemned.”