Randwick locals called a protest, with the help of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, outside Randwick City Council chambers on April 18 to call on it reconsider flying the flag of an apartheid regime.
Randwick Council decided in February to support a motion from Liberal Councillor Daniel Rosenfeld, which was seconded by independent Councillor Noel D’Souza, to fly the Israeli flag on April 26 to celebrate “75 years of Israeli Independence”.
The motion passed 10–4, with those against being deputy mayor and Greens Councillor Rafaela Pandolfini and three other Greens councillors.
The Greens councillors subsequently tried to get a rescission motion on the April 18 meeting agenda, but General Manager Ray Brownlee refused on the grounds that the council’s Code of Practice disallowed a rescission motion, if the motion in question had already been actioned.
At the meeting, Greens Councillor Michael Olive’s urgency motion to rescind the decision to fly the Israeli flag was voted down by the Labor, Liberal and independent councillors.
Council should have had the opportunity to rethink this divisive and controversial decision, especially at this time when the far-right Israeli government is escalating violence against Palestinians and condoning increased violence by the illegal Israeli settlers.
Palestinian Maroubra resident Professor Yahya Shehabi said she 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," Shehabi said.
It’s ironic that council supported D’Souza’s second resolution at the February meeting, that council investigate establishing a “Truth and Reconciliation Group” to discuss the challenges faced by First Nation’s people and to reconcile the wrongs of the past and yet is happy to support the colonial state of Israel.
The Israeli state is controlled by far-right extremists and its violations against the human rights of Palestinian citizens in Israel and the millions of Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are increasing.
Israel’s apartheid laws and systemic discrimination against Palestinians has been condemned with major reports by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Israeli human rights non-government organisation B’Tselem, following on from Palestinians exposing this violence and discrimination over many decades.
The State of Israel was established with the forcible expulsion and dispossession of more than 750,000 Palestinians and massacres such as occurred at Deir Yassin or Tantura.
The Nakba has continued over the past 75 years as Israel continues its unrelenting program of colonisation and dispossession.
This is not something any local council should be celebrating.
[Cathy Peters is a Palestine solidarity activist and a former Greens Councillor in Marrickville. Find an Al Nakba commemoration in May to support a free Palestine.]