National Security

Premier handballs the Gaza genade

May 20, 2024

20 May 2024
Rachel Baxendale
The Australian

 Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan said the Israel-Hamas war was a  "federal" problem, as protesters with heads wrapped completely in  Palestinian scarves clashed with police outside state parliament, and Labor's  state conference was dominated by attacks on Israel.
 Hundreds of police were forced to spend Sunday afternoon keeping the peace  outside parliament, after a group of violent pro-Palestine protesters,  yelling "intifada" and "from the river to the sea"  rallied in opposition to a demonstration against anti-Semitism.
 The chaos unfolded on Spring Street little more than 24 hours after  pro-Palestine protesters had stormed the Victorian Labor Party conference,  and the party had passed six anti-Israel motions.
 While Ms Allan said she was "disgusted" by protesters who  "brought violence, homophobia and anti-Semitism to the front door of  state conference" on Saturday preventing some state ministers from  entering and yelling a homophobic slur at one she downplayed non-binding  motions championed by her Socialist Left faction as a matter for the federal  government.
 "Foreign policy should be left to the federal government because  Australia must speak in one voice on the world stage," Ms Allan said.  "My priority as the state's Premier is maintaining a cohesive society  where all Victorians are safe and respected." A spokeswoman for Anthony  Albanese said motions at state Labor conferences were "a matter for the  party".
 "The government position is very clear and longstanding," she said.
 The issue of Gaza did not feature at what was a much quieter conference on  Sunday, although several dozen party members, including delegates who  addressed the conference on other issues, Continued on Page 5 Premier  handballs the Gaza grenade Continued from Page 1 chose to wear keffiyeh  scarves in support of Palestine.
 One motion demanded that the Albanese government support the  "inalienable right of selfdetermination for the Palestinian  people"; another called for the end to Israel's "perpetual military  occupation and human rights violations" in Gaza.
 On social media, pro-Palestine protesters circulated a poster featuring a  jackboot crushing a Star of David to promote their counterrally ahead the of  the "Never Again is Now" rally against antiSemitism on Sunday  afternoon.
 As thousands of members of the Jewish community and their supporters,  including the Christian founders of the "Never Again is Now"  movement, politicians and religious leaders gathered for their rally,  pro-Palestine protesters, some of whom covered all but their eyes with  keffiyehs, congregated on the other side of a large police cordon, which  included public order response and mounted brigades.
 At one stage, the pro-Palestine protesters blocked off the northern-most  entrance to the parliament train station, preventing members of the public  trying to attend the rally against antiSemitism from exiting the station and  accusing them of "supporting genocide".
 One 84-year-old Jewish woman, who declined to be named out of fear for her  safety, was separated from her group and repeatedly poked and called a  "Zionist pig" by protesters whose faces were covered.
 For hours, pro-Palestine protesters banged drums and yelled  "intifada" and "from the river to the sea".
 At the other end of the street, supporters of the "Never Again is  Now" rally waved Australian and Israeli flags, held green and gold  umbrellas and placards with slogans including "Stop hate, mate" and  "anti-Semitism is unAustralian", and danced and sang to anthems  such as Aretha Franklin's Say a Little Prayer and John Farnham's You're the  Voice, as well as traditional Jewish music and a performance by Jewish  singer-songwriter Deborah Conway.
 A long list of politicians and community members addressed the crowd,  including Liberal senators James Paterson and Sarah Henderson, state Liberal  frontbencher David Southwick, former state Labor minister Phil Dalidakis, and  Indigenous leader and former Liberal candidate Warren Mundine.
 Ms Conway, Rabbinical Council of Victoria president Moshe Kahn and  "Never Again is Now" founder Mark Leach senior minister at the  Darling Street Anglican Church in Sydney's inner-west Rozelle also spoke;  recorded messages were played from Peter Dutton and former deputy prime  minister John Anderson.
 Former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu was also present.
 Senator Paterson said he felt compelled to address the "elephant in the  room", namely the proPalestine protesters.
 "Just over there are people counter-protesting this rally,  counter-protesting a rally against anti-Semitism," he said.
 "And the material they used to promote their protest is frightening:  blood-stained writing, a jackboot stomping on the Star of David.
 "For the last six months they've had this city to themselves, but on the  one weekend the Jewish community and their friends show up, they are here to  try to intimidate us.
 "But this city belongs to all of us. We are not afraid. We will not be  bullied. And the good news is they are an isolated fringe. They don't speak  for Australia.
 "In fact just this week the Senate voted on an overwhelming bipartisan  basis to condemn their hateful rhetoric and slogans.
 "The vast majority of Australians reject these extremists.
 Everyone here today stands proudly with the Jewish community and against  their hate.
 And we will stand with you for as long as it takes to defeat it." The  federal Opposition Leader said he had been shocked and appalled by the  "magnitude and intensity of the anti-Semitism which has emerged in  Australia since a seething mob chanted slogans of slaughter on the steps of  the Sydney Opera House on 9 October . In the battle against anti-Semitism in  Australia, I say to Australians of Jewish faith, you are not alone. The fight  will not be yours alone," he said. "The Coalition I lead will  continue to call out and condemn anti-Semitism."

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