Randwick City Council has outraged many residents by deciding to raise Israel’s flag on the 26 April to celebrate 75 years of Israel’s independence. Today residents will hold a protest outside Randwick Town Hall, then attend the Council meeting to urge Councillors to overturn their decision.
The protest has been organised by Randwick City Council residents, including Palestinians, Jews, Christians, a leader of a humanitarian aid organisation and a human rights lawyer. They are united in their belief that raising the flag of Israel is reprehensible, and an affront to Australian’s values of supporting human rights, equality and pluralism.
See below quotes from local residents. Here is a link to download minutes of the decision to raise the flag from the Council website.
Dozens of local residents are known to have written to their local Councillors urging them to support a motion to rescind the original decision to fly the flag.
At today’s Council meeting, two Councillors will move an urgency motion, seeking for the original decision to be overturned because of the deep offense it has caused to people in the Randwick community.
The protest today will be supported by people around Sydney who are dismayed at the precedent that Randwick Council have set, in raising a flag of a country that is so blatantly abusing Palestinian rights, in breach of UN Security Council resolutions, and under investigation at the International Criminal Court. Many human rights organisations have identified Israel as committing the crime of apartheid against Palestinians.
APAN has become involved at the request of local residents.
5.30pm Protest vigil outside Randwick Town Hall
7pm Council meeting to consider motion to overturn decision to raise Israeli flag
Quotes from Randwick City Council residents (used with permission)
I’ve lived for forty years in Australia and in Randwick Council specifically, and I have been grateful for the harmony and multiculturalism I have experienced. I was therefore horrified at the decision by the Randwick Council to raise the Israeli flag, as it seems a betrayal of this pluralism. Implicitly or explicitly, it would communicate that the Council condones the actions of the most right-wing Government in Israel’s history. If this was the Ukraine flag, I wouldn’t have a problem, as people are seeking their freedom. In this case it is the complete opposite, Israel is the aggressor, and we are supporting the aggressor. I have many Jewish friends, and colleagues in medicine, we share lots of values about life and humanity, but Israel doesn’t share those values. For myself as a Palestinian, for many of my friends who are Arab and my Jewish colleagues who are concerned about Israel, the proposal to fly the flag feels to be a violation of our rights, which seems to be reflecting the views of a very few.
Professor Yahya Shehabi, Palestinian Maroubra resident, Specialist in Intensive Care Medicine.
As a Jewish Australian, I want to tell Randwick Council that the flag of Israel absolutely does not represent me or my contribution to my community. I am the descendant of Holocaust survivors whose lived Jewishness embodied the polar opposite of Israel’s brutality towards the Palestinians. I completely reject Israel’s claim to act or speak for me, and the idea that its flag should fly in my community is deeply distressing. I am privileged to know many other Jews of principle who feel the same.
Michelle Berkon, Jewish Maroubra resident, and descendant of Holocaust survivors.
Israel is currently before the International Criminal Court for its treatment for Palestinians, and all major international human rights groups are saying Israel is practicising apartheid. If Randwick Council flies Israel’s flag in our community, what does this say about the value we place on the human rights of Middle-Eastern and Muslim communities?
Zaahir Edries, resident of Kensington. Human rights lawyer & Executive of Muslim Legal Network of NSW.
I lead ActionAid Australia, an NGO that supports Palestinians who are living under a crushing illegal Israeli occupation. The United Nations have been calling on Israel to end its military occupation; and particularly stop expanding their illegal settlements into Palestinian lands but they continue to, putting people’s lives at risk. Particularly at this time, when Israeli Ministers are suggesting Palestinians don’t even exist; the Israeli military have killed over 80 people this year including 16 children; and Israeli settlers are burning Palestinian crops, homes and cars; it is a particularly offensive time to raise the Israeli flag.
Michelle Higelin, resident of Matraville, and Executive Director of ActionAid Australia, which has been working directly with Palestinian communities for over fifteen years.
In 1967 I volunteered in a Kibbutz, and many decades later spent a sabbatical on the West Bank and have seen firsthand the horror of Israel’s military occupation. As a Christian Catholic Religious Brother I feel compelled to stand with others against this injustice.
Br John Walker MSC, Kensington