Israel protests in Australia reveals politicised law enforcement

The disproportionate response of New South Wales Police towards pro-Palestine protesters on the one hand, and the Sydney Jewish Community on the other, has revealed a worrying trend of public institutions being captured by political ideology and failing to serve the public interest impartially.

The Sydney Opera House sails were lit up in blue and white on 9 October 2023 – days after surprise attacks launched by Hamas on Israel – to commemorate the lives lost.

NSW Police, however, advised the Jewish Community to stay away from the Opera House that evening, in anticipation of Pro-Palestinian protests planned at the same time.

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies told members late on Monday that authorities advised them not to go to the Opera House – despite it being lit up in support for Israel – as police allowed Palestinian support marchers to leave the starting point at Town Hall and walk towards the lit-up sails.

Despite protesters chanting anti-Semitic slogans and burning an Israeli flag on the steps of the Opera House, the protest was allowed to continue, with the Jewish Community unable to gather publicly in an Australian city to commemorate its victims.

During the protests, no arrests were made of pro-Palestinian protesters, but a peaceful Israeli protester holding an Israeli flag was arrested and eventually allowed to leave after surrendering his flag.

At Sydney Town Hall, Mark Spiro was dragged away by police as he held an Israeli flag. He was heard shouting “I did nothing wrong” as he was arrested and removed by officers.

“I was literally at the protest for all of probably three seconds with a rolled up Israeli flag, and next thing I know I’ve got multiple police officers trying to grab the flag off me and then carrying me away from the scene,” Mr Spiro said in an interview with Sky News.

Unbalanced responses from public institutions which are meant to be impartial affects ordinary Australians every day, albeit usually in less confronting and public ways. HRLA represents Christians who are pursued by corporations and authorities, often for expressing orthodox views that are considered offensive, while Christians themselves are subjected to insults, derogatory speech and silencing that remains ignored.

This trend of public administrative bodies and organisations becoming captured by ideology threatens to undermine public confidence in our institutions.

Public institutions are funded by taxpayers and established to serve the common good, in a fair and balanced manner, and free from bias towards any ideological position. 

The police in particular must be impartial and not take sides in what are contested and ideologically motivated issues. Its role and purpose is to protect and serve the public without fear or favour.