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The ugly spectacle of a crowd of protestors chanting “gas the Jews” outside the Sydney Opera House must count as the most shameful episode to have ever occurred there.

Thirty years after Nelson Mandela spoke on those steps and made international headlines, Australian protestors’ ugly message was beamed around the world.

It would be utterly wrong to suggest that all of those who gathered support the terrorist group Hamas. Indeed, many Palestinians do not.

But it is impossible to describe some of the ugly chants at the Sydney protest as anything but anti-Semitic.

In one video posted on TikTok, a man “interviews” horse excrement to obtain the “pro-Israeli” point of view and then laughs, declaring it had nothing to say because those that support Israel are “sh*t”.

The context of this “interview” was the mass slaughter of hundreds of young people who did nothing but attend a dance party.

Imagine for a moment if hundreds of Australians were slaughtered by terrorists at a music festival and protestors gathered at the Sydney Opera House in “solidarity” with their killers.

If protestors gathered in solidarity with the Bali bombers or indeed the right-wing terrorist who shot dead more than 50 at the Christchurch mosque?

The only appropriate reaction to such public support for mass murder is one of horror.

Human concern over the plight of Palestinians including children killed in the conflict does not require the endorsement of the wholesale slaughter of Israelis, let alone a celebration.

Something has gone very wrong in Australian society if those who gathered at Sydney Opera House cannot see that.

And yet a long line of sports stars, celebrities and even politicians seemed unable to condemn the attacks for what they are – terrorism.

Sonny Bill Williams, a New Zealand heavyweight boxer and former rugby league and rugby union star, shared a post suggesting the Palestinian group Hamas were “freedom fighters”.

Really? Fighting for freedom by driving around in a ute with the dead or unconscious body of a half-naked woman in the back while another man spits on her?

At the Sydney rally at Lakemba, Sheikh Ibrahim Dadoun told the crowd the attacks on Israel are an act of resistance.

“I’m smiling and I’m happy,” he said.

“I’m elated, it’s a day of courage, it’s a day of pride, it’s a day of victory. This is the day we’ve been waiting for. Seventy-five years of occupation. Fifteen years of blockade. What happened yesterday was the first time our brothers and sisters broke through the largest prison on earth.”

Greens leader Adam Bandt took to social media to at least declare that his party “condemned the horrific attacks on civilians”.

He then added: “We condemn the occupation. It’s time for a just and lasting peace. To achieve peace the occupation of Palestine must end.”

Sydney protest organisers Palestine Action Group Sydney was quick to defend the Opera House protest as “peaceful,” distancing itself from “a tiny fringe”.

“From our observations [the chanting] occurred for less than one minute and was not an ongoing chant,” the group wrote.

“They were quickly condemned for their chants and asked to leave. Longstanding Palestinian organisers and activists, Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim elders attending the protest were disgusted and deplored the action.

“This is not what our movement stands for.”

But the fact remains that the decision to conduct the protest at all left Jewish families feeling unsafe and unable to attend.

The decision of police to advise Jewish people not to attend, for their own safety, sent a terrible message.

NSW Premier Chris Minns made the correct decision when he apologised for that days later.

“There is nothing to celebrate in the killing of innocents, the firing of rockets at civilians, or the taking of hostages. The actions of Hamas must be condemned,” he said.

“Far from celebrating this violence – the only appropriate response is to denounce these atrocious acts of violence that have killed so many innocent people.”

Many Australians are too young to remember that some people in the British establishment flirted with Nazism in the lead-up to World War II.

Indeed, the most famous British royal sympathetic to the Nazis was King Edward III, who abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson.

In July 1933, he reportedly told former Kaiser Wilhelm II’s grandson, Prince Louis Ferdinand, that it was “no business of ours to interfere in Germany’s internal affairs either re Jews or re anything else”.

“Dictators are very popular these days,’’ he said. “We might want one in England before long.”

As grotesque as his words were, he at least had the excuse that the looming horror of German concentration camps was not fully known and understood in 1933.

The protestors on the steps of the Opera House don’t have that excuse.

Originally published as Supporters of slaughter a horror for our nation | Samantha Maiden

Read related topics:Sydney

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