Palestinian cause ‘misappropriating’ Aboriginal flag: Peris

Palestinian and Aboriginal flags used together at a rally
The Palestinian and Aboriginal flags have commonly been used together at pro-Palestinian rallies (Image: Uri Windt/Plus61J Media).

Prominent Indigenous leader Nova Peris calls on pro-Palestinian supporters to ditch the Aboriginal flag; Greens MPs fuel tensions over Gaza.

As the Israel-Hamas war enters its fourth month, the Australian diaspora continues to feel the repercussions in the form of rising tensions, increased political debate, and community polarisation.

Indigenous leader, Olympian and former senator Nova Peris recently weighed in, accusing the pro-Palestinian movement of “misappropriating” the Aboriginal flag to claim solidarity for their cause.

In a video posted to social media, Peris said she was concerned that the use of the Aboriginal flag at pro-Palestinian rallies could portray Indigenous activists as turning a blind eye to antisemitism.

Peris said Jewish Australians have been “the most committed friends and allies” of reconciliation, including during the Voice to Parliament last year.

Palestinian and Aboriginal flags on a sign reading "land back"
Nova Peris says pro-Palestinian supporters have misappropriated the Aboriginal flag (Image: Uri Windt/Plus61J Media).

“I’m saddened to see our sacred Aboriginal flag, a flag which I fought so hard to be returned to the Aboriginal community, being misappropriated by Palestinian, anti-Israel and anti-Jewish groups in Australia,” said Peris, who led the campaign to free the Aboriginal flag from copyright restrictions.

“I want to reciprocate by helping… overturn a similar lie which is now being told against the Jewish people: that they have no connection to the land of Israel; that they are ‘settler-colonialists’.

“How can we allow people to shout out ‘F the Jews’ whilst burning flags on the steps of the Sydney Opera House? How can we not call this out and stamp this out? This behaviour is un-Australian.”

Fiery political debate

The debate has again made its way to Canberra, as yesterday’s fiery question time drew further attention to the local division caused by the Israel-Hamas war.

The Greens said the Australian government’s claim to be playing a constructive role in the conflict was “a sick joke”, with leader Adam Bandt stating Israel’s actions had “moved beyond self-defence – this is now a slaughter” and MP Elizabeth Watson-Brown condemning the government’s decision to suspend UNRWA funding.

Meanwhile, the Coalition accused Labor of “trying to walk both sides of the street”.

“When passions run high, people can stumble into terrible, terrible comments that further divide and sow disunity in our community and that is the last thing we need right now.”

New South Wales premier Chris Minns

The comments prompted assistant foreign minister Tim Watts to argue that both the Coalition and the Greens were seeking to “divide our community for political gain” and “never let the truth get in the way of a campaigning opportunity”.

Watts said the government had repeatedly stated “that Israel does have a right to defend itself against these appalling terrorist attacks, but the way that Israel exercises that right matters [and] that Israel must respect international law”.

The Greens party also came under fire in Victoria following a stunt which saw Richmond MP Gabrielle de Vietri, Brunswick MP Tim Read, Melbourne MP Ellen Sandell and Prahran MP Sam Hibbins removed from the lower house chamber for holding up placards that read “Vic Labor stop arming Israel”.

The heated exchange was live streamed on social media and shared by de Vietri, who called on premier Jacinta Allan to cancel a memorandum of understanding that Victoria had signed with Israel’s defence ministry given the findings of the International Court of Justice.

Speaker Maree Edwards said further action would be taken if the MPs did not apologise.

Historical tropes re-emerge

In New South Wales, premier Chris Minns warned parliamentarians about sowing division in the community, after yet another Greens MP, this time Newtown’s Jenny Leong, was forced to publicly apologise for using a long-standing antisemitic trope.

Leong said she did not intend to reference a historic antisemitic cartoon depicting Jews as an octopus when she referred to the “tentacles” of the “Jewish lobby” and its influence across Australia while speaking at the Palestine Justice Movement forum in Sydney in December.

“Everyone… has to be really careful about commentary, particularly in relation to ethnic groups, racial groups, particularly for longstanding tropes,” Minns said.

“When passions run high, people can stumble into terrible, terrible comments that further divide and sow disunity in our community and that is the last thing we need right now.”

READ MORE

Nova Peris says Aboriginal flag ‘misappropriated’ by Palestine protesters (SMH)

Debate erupts on Aboriginal flags flown at pro-Palestinian protests (ABC)

Fiery debate as Labor accused of ‘trying to walk both sides of street’ on Israel-Gaza conflict (Guardian)

Green MPs face sanctions as premier says protests made her feel unsafe (SMH)

Chris Minns warns against use of antisemitic tropes after Greens MP apologises for Jewish lobby comments (Guardian)