“No evidence” antisemitic phrases were chanted at Palestinian rally

“No evidence” antisemitic phrases were chanted at Palestinian rally
Image: Free Palestine rally outside Sydney Opera House on October 9, 2023. Dean Lewins, AAP



Following an investigation into a pro-Palestinian rally at the Sydney Opera House last October, NSW Police have said that there is no evidence the phrase “gas the Jews” was chanted in videos circulating online.

However, police also said several people who attended the rally made statements saying they heard the phrase, but investigators could not attribute it to any particular individual.

The protest took place on October 9, two days after Hamas militants attacked an Israeli music festival, seeing 1200 Israelis killed and hundreds kidnapped. Palestine supporters were galvanised by the Sydney Opera House being illuminated with the Israeli flag.

In the following days, NSW Police launched an investigation into whether any offences were committed at the protest.

After receiving the results of an acoustic and phonetic analysis from an expert at the National Centre of Biometric Science, Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon said there was no evidence the phrase was used in “significant volumes of audio and video files”.

“The expert has concluded with overwhelming certainty that the phrase chanted during that protest as recorded on the audio-visual files was ‘where’s the Jews’, not another phrase as otherwise widely reported,” he said.

However, there was evidence of “offensive and completely unacceptable” phrases being used at the rally, he said. Other videos showed chants like “F— the Jews.”

For further action to be taken, police would need to be able to attribute the phrases to an individual and claim that they were used to incite or threaten violence.

In a statement, Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Alex Ryvchin said the “exact words” of the chants were not the main issue.

“‘Where’s the Jews’ is as bad as ‘gas the Jews’. ‘F— the Jews’ is as dangerous and abhorrent as ‘gas the Jews’,” he said.
“This is the issue and no matter what efforts some will go to, to deflect or confuse the public, the issue was and remains violence on our streets and threats to our social cohesion.”
The Palestine Action Group Sydney, the group behind the rally, said in a statement, “NSW police have confirmed today what we already knew: that the video alleging that protesters had chanted “gas the Jews” outside the Opera House on 9 October was a fake.”
“This vile and false allegation was widely reported by media outlets around the world, despite many in the media knowing that the fake video they relied on as evidence was at best dubious, and had been uploaded by an extreme Zionist organisation with a history of making false claims.”
“The Palestine Action Group Sydney has made it clear for over a decade that we are an anti-racist movement which has no tolerance for antisemitism, Islamophobia or anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian racism,” the statement continued.
“The struggle to free Palestine is a struggle against the racist apartheid state of Israel, not against Jews.”

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