Council’s decision to fly Palestinian flag branded ‘incomprehensible’

A council has agreed to fly a Palestinian flag in a move branded “incomprehensible” by Jewish leaders.

The motion was put forward by Labour councillor Karl Saleh of the Canterbury-Bankstown Council in Sydney, Australia.

It was unanimously agreed to fly the flag in support of the Palestinian people from Paul Keating Park and the Campsie Administration building until a ceasefire is declared.

“The media often ask, do we condemn all acts of violence targeting civilians and, of course, we condemn terrorism and violence in any form,” Cllr Saleh said.

“Of course, we have no place for antisemitism or Islamophobia in our city but let’s not pretend that the Palestinians have only been suffering since October 7 this year.”

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The councillor said it was a “mark of respect to convey our condolences for the more than 5,000 Palestinians killed, nearly half of them children”.

Jewish leaders have condemned the decision, with Australian Jewish Association president Dr David Adler saying it was “incomprehensible that any civilised people could support a gesture at this time”.

“This would be akin to flying the German flag after Kristallnacht or the Japanese flag after Pearl Harbour,” he told the Telegraph.

Dr Adler accused the council of a “complete lack of empathy for the Jewish community”.

“The phrase of condemning all violence is a cover for trying to build a false moral equivalent. There is no equivalence to what happened on October 7,” he said.

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It was also condemned by the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies president David Ossip. He said: “An act of support for Palestinian civilians caught up in Hamas’ war is understandable but without also condemning the Hamas terror regime, you’re just giving comfort and support to Hamas who have proven to be worse than ISIS.”

Mayor of Canterbury-Bankstown, Bilal El-Hayek, described the situation in Gaza as a humanitarian crisis, asking “why the human rights of Palestinians are constantly being ignored” and said the community “cannot be silenced”.

He said: “It’s about freedom of speech and letting the rest of the world know that there are two sides grieving. Let us be proud, we are a council with a heart and soul and we will show our true colours like the flag we fly.”

Mr El-Hayek proposed for the council to write to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the opposition leader to make a “definitive statement that they stand with the innocent people of Gaza” and call for an immediate ceasefire.

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