Richard Marles: Jewish Australians have a right to feel safe

Deputy PM Richard Marles was shocked by the wild scenes outside a Caulfield synagogue.

Deputy PM Richard Marles was shocked by the wild scenes outside a Caulfield synagogue. Photo: AAP

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles has expressed his sympathy and support for Jewish Australians after ugly scenes at pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

Mr Marles also condemned the Friday night protests in the Melbourne suburb of Caulfield South, where pro-Israel and pro-Palestine groups faced off on Friday.

The clash sparked the evacuation of a nearby synagogue, for which protest organisers have apologised, insisting they did not know it was nearby when organising the rally.

Mr Marles said people in Australia deserved to have a right to feel safe.

“This demonstration on behalf of Palestine in the heart of the Jewish community was unacceptable,” he told Sky News on Sunday.

“Right now, Jewish Australians have never felt less safe, and this is a real problem and we need to be moving to fix that.”

Calls have grown for a ceasefire in the conflict, as Palestinian officials said two babies had died and dozens more patients were at risk from an Israeli siege of Gaza’s largest hospital.

Further rallies in support of Palestine have been planned in Melbourne on Sunday.

Mr Marles urged greater social cohesion in Australia, describing the events in the Middle East as an unfolding tragedy

“People have a right to put pressure on their country’s government, on us, but there shouldn’t be demonstrations which are aimed at other members of the community,” he said.

‘A right to feel safe’

“Jewish Australians, as all Australians clearly, have a right to feel safe within their country.”

The defence minister also denounced Islamophobic comments aimed at Australia’s Muslim community following the latest outbreak of violence in the Middle East.

“There are Muslim Australians I’ve spoken to … who feel a sense of isolation in this moment,” he said. “That’s unacceptable as well.”

Opposition defence spokesman Andrew Hastie also condemned Friday’s protest in Melbourne.

“What we saw on Friday in Caulfield was anti-Semitic, thuggish behaviour,” he told Sky News.

“It was a power grab and it was an assertion of one group over another for primacy in the public space.

“The government has to lead, has to be clear about what is acceptable and, if necessary, use the law to move these people on, or indeed prosecute and take care of it.”

Mr Hastie said Israel had shown “great restraint” in its response to the conflict following the October 7 attacks by Hamas, which the federal government has labelled a terrorist organisation.

“(Israel) have had people from across the globe calling on them for restraint, and they’ve sent millions of warnings to people living in Gaza to evacuate, reminding them that there might be an attack imminent,” he said.

Australia ‘is complicit’

In Adelaide, a visiting United Nations human rights expert reiterated calls for an embargo on arms supply to the Israeli-Palestine war, singling out Australia as complicit.

Francesca Albanese, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, warned there was a risk violence could escalate in the weeks and months ahead.

Ms Albanese said she would discuss an arms embargo to prevent future violence when she meets with Australian MPs.

“(Australia) is complicit,” Ms Francesca said during a speech on Saturday night.

“I really need you to remind your political leadership they need to stop reciting the mantra of negotiation to end the conflict.

“The occupation must cease.”


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