‘Progressive’ Melbourne councillor called out over Jew-hating posts

After coldly dismissing a resident's safety concerns, tone-deaf Merri-bek councillor James Conlan continues to spread Jew-hatred.

‘Progressive’ Melbourne councillor called out over Jew-hating posts
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A Melbourne councillor who claims his stance is against Zionism and not Jewish people, has come under scrutiny for his social media activity after he sent an 'insulting' letter to a local resident who voiced concerns about antisemitism.

A local Jewish mother raised concerns about safety amid growing antisemitism in her community, only to be met with accusations of lying and misunderstanding from James Conlan.

The Merri-bek councillor dismissed her fears, suggesting she reconsider what made her feel unsafe, and claimed that anti-Israel protests do not threaten anyone’s safety.

Conlan's X account regularly retweets Dr. Anastasia Maria Loupis, a notorious antisemite based in Copenhagen. Loupis, who boasts over 880,000 followers on X, has been investigated by the Danish Medical Association’s Ethics Board for her online conduct that perpetuates Jew-hatred.

The mother, who remains anonymous due to safety fears, described the email as aggressive and dismissive.

“Each time I leave home I am on high alert. Sydney Rd has been filled with posters supporting various Pro-Palestinian rallies," she said. "I’ve had to take down our mezuzah and enhance home security.”

Council Watch president Dean Hurlston criticised Conlan, stating councillors are not entitled to disregard others' feelings. He called for Conlan to apologise or resign. Conlan defended his email, asserting he supports liberation for all and dismissed allegations that anti-Israel rallies call for Jewish extermination as 'lies' despite genocidal chants like 'From the River to the Sea' being commonplace at these events.

Members of the Jewish community recently met with Merri-bek mayor Adam Pulford and chief executive Cathy Henderson to express concerns but were told the council’s position on Gaza was firm.

CONCERNED RESIDENT'S LETTER:

I am writing to you as a very concerned resident about the Palestinian flag flying outside our council office and the anti-Israel motion on November 8.
I implore you to hear the experience of myself as someone Jewish living in our council area and what the experience has been like since the October 7 massacres in Israel.
My family has lived In this area since the 1850s. There was a vibrant Jewish community here and we are some of the remnants of that community.
My family has felt very safe in this area until recently. This directly coincides with the massacre in Israel on October 7 2023, and Israeli military response since then.
The frequent extremely hostile pro Palestinian rallies calling for the elimination of Israel and all Jews, are a physical presence of extreme views. These denigrate Israel and threaten democracy while openly supporting Hamas and this frightens me.
Each time I leave home I am on high alert. Sydney Rd has been filled with posters supporting various Pro Palestinian rallies targeting schoolchildren, teachers and health care workers. There are boycott Israel stickers appearing on many places and street signs, as well as
anti Israel graffiti. While driving I have had behind me a car flying a full size Palestinian flag and felt so frightened I found it hard to concentrate on driving.
I no longer wear my Star of David, you see this makes me visibly Jewish and I have my two year old son as well as myself to protect. At our home in Brunswick East I have taken down our mezuzah on our front door and I’m scrambling to try to get better
security fittings for my home.
This is how life has become for me and other Jews and Israelis who live in Merri-bek.
It is not only Jewish and Israeli residents who are traumatised and frightened by this behaviour, but many Christian Arabs have also faced Islamist Terror and feel threaten and scared.
I know first hand that the choice by the council to fly the Palestinian flag has frightened and disturbed many in our community.
These divisive actions by the council disturbingly weaken the respectful social cohesion of various minorities fitting into Australia and adopting Australian values of tolerance and equality.
These actions also promote conflict and give the go ahead for hostile intimidation tactics that could easily turn deadly. In short, they have the capacity to incite violence.
In the media we have seen our once safe and welcoming streets turn into vast seas of protesters chanting for the elimination of Jews while flying the Palestinian flag while promoting Hamas in our beautiful democratic country.
With respect, the role of a city council is to focus on local governance and community needs, whilst keeping its constituents safe.
In the notes regarding the outcome of the meeting November 8 they open with ‘At the November 8 Council meeting a motion was put forward to confirm Council’s position on the current conflict in Gaza.’
Why would a local council need to have a position on Gaza? The purview of foreign affairs is a federal matter and local councils making such absurd and ill informed statements only emboldens the most radical haters in our society to keep pushing boundaries and that
threats and intimidation are acceptable strategies here.
According to the Local Government Act 2020 (Section 28), Councils have a duty to ensure local community members feel safe and connected. Council motions that weigh in on complex religious and political foreign conflicts risk creating division and fail to represent the diverse views of the local community the council purportedly serves.
Please, I implore you to support a motion to reconsider these divisive choices our council has made.
Thank you for your attention.

Cr JAMES CONLAN'S RESPONSE:

I’m sorry that you feel unsafe. You have a right to feel safe and I can understand how some of these political tensions may be triggering in the context of the collective trauma experienced by Jewish people. However, it may be worth considering what exactly is making you feel so unsafe. Of course you have a right to feel safe, but you do not have a right to attempt to quash the calls for peace, freedom and self determination of an entire group of people.
I’m losing patience in trying to understand how opposing a genocide is so complicated for some parts of the community. Opposing the genocide of Palestinians does not mean one supports the genocide of Jews. That is so logically incoherent it’s difficult to get my head around. Everyone I know who opposes the genocide of Palestinians is also vehemently against the Holocaust and oppression of Jewish people. It’s possible to support the freedom of Palestinians AND Jews at the same time. The deliberate conflation of peace for Palestinians with the obliteration of the Jews is a disingenuous, violent lie peddled by the Zionist lobby, genocidal Israeli army and right wing politicians.
Those supporting Palestinians right now also want freedom and liberation for all within Israel and the illegally occupied territories. The freedom and liberation of one group of people does not have to entail the extermination of another. No one is free until we’re all free.
Also, I’d like to point out some blatant lies in your email. I’ve been to many pro Palestine rallies and the suggestion that those people are calling for the extermination of the Jews is absolutely offensively wrong and a complete fabrication. These lies circulating in the media have been systematically disproven and shown to be a deliberate attempt by Zionists to discredit peaceful demonstrations calling for peace and an end to genocide.
The reality is that Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine, siege of Gaza, and ongoing illegal settlements, must end. Jews, Arabs and Christians can and have lived in peace and harmony in the region for thousands of years.
They could do so again under a single, democratic state where all citizens in that state have full and equal civic and political rights. I will not have anyone tell me that a single democratic state where all are equal and have full civic and political rights, is somehow a call for the extermination of a particular group. In what other part of the world do we call for separate states for particular ethno/religious identities. I don’t hear any calls for establishing
separate Jewish, Christian, Muslim and other states based in Australia based on ethnno/religious identifies. A single state where all people are free to pursue their religious, cultural and other identities should be the aim of everyone who seek peace.
I won’t be engaging further with people who cannot unequivocally denounce the genocide being perpetrated right now against Palestinians in real time for the world to see on their screens. If this is too complicated to oppose, then I don’t believe that peace is the real intended aim.

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