Backlash over local council plan to fly Israeli flag
April 18, 2023
Residents have gathered outside a Sydney council meeting to protest its decision to fly the Israeli flag, which has sparked outrage from some.
Earlier this year, Randwick City Council voted in favour of flying the flag atop its town hall on April 26 to celebrate Israel’s 75th anniversary of independence.
On Tuesday night the council shot down an urgency motion to overturn the decision, which was met by calls of “shame” by some members of the public who were present.
Those who oppose flying the flag say with ongoing allegations of human rights abuses by Israel against Palestinians, to do so would be an affront to Australia’s values of equality and pluralism.
Palestinian Maroubra resident Yahya Shehabi said he was horrified at the council’s decision to raise the Israeli flag.
“Implicitly or explicitly, it would communicate 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 colleagues in medicine, we share lots of values about life and humanity, but Israel doesn’t share those values.”
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Darren Bark firmly supported Randwick Council flying the Israeli flag as a message of inclusivity for the area’s large Jewish population, for whom he says the anniversary of Israel’s 1948 independence is a historic occasion.
“NSW and Israel share a warm, long-lasting relationship based on common values,” Mr Bark said.
“The flying of the Israeli flag reinforces that no matter our background, our faith or the language we speak, everyone is welcome and has a place to call home in our cohesive, multicultural state.”
The motion voted on by council back in February to fly the flag also included writing to the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and other prominent Jewish leaders acknowledging the contribution made by the Jewish community to Randwick City.