By Sahar Foladi
The City of Greater Dandenong Council has passed a motion calling for a permanent ceasefire and peace in Palestine as over 14,000 innocent civilians are killed.
The council meeting on Monday 27 November was a mix of emotions as the debate on the motion begun with the tearful mover, Councillor Rhonda Garad supported by Cr Jim Memeti.
“This motion condemns the Hamas attack on October 7 it concerns all forms of violence,” Cr Garad said.
“We can all see what’s happening, we can all see the murder and slaying of children.
“It is wrong in anyone’s language in any context and any time, there is never a justification.”
The “humane” motion calls out the State and Federal Government to “demand an immediate ceasefire among all parties in the Gaza conflict,” “an end to illegal occupation of the Palestinian Territories” and “anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and racism in all forms, both in Australia and internationally.”
The crowd erupted in applause and cheers in the public gallery as the council voted for the motion, also applauding Councillors Garad and Memeti for bringing the motion on the table.
“I love humanity and this is what this motion about,” Cr Memeti said.
“The motion is an extension of Councils commitment to support diverse community needs.”
The community turnout at the meeting in support of the motion was so great the public gallery filled up as majority watched the scenes unfold on the big screen at Harmony Square.
According to Cr Memeti, a crowd of 1,500 people gathered outside with 40 seated at the public gallery during the meeting.
“It was very emotional, people bursted into tears and they were extremely happy that council is listening and supporting them.”
He says the impact of the war is so deeply felt in the multicultural community that he had to support this motion.
“Just when I would speak to people they would tell me what they’re facing in their own homes and lives, emotionally as well as mentally, they feel abandoned.
“They love Australia it’s been great democratic and just country, they just don’t know why Australia is not supporting ceasefire.”
The crowd both inside and outside the building celebrated as Councillors Memeti and Garad walked out into the crowd of happy faces.
“I can see people from the community sitting over there, I see doctors, teachers, milk bar owners, factory workers, people living in my street this is my community and I am standing up for my community,” Cr Memeti said.
“I’m calling on both the state and the federal government to ceasefire and support Palestine.”
Councillor Garad said she’s never received “so many messages and so much support for a motion” in the three years in the council.
“That’s not one particular community, 100,000 people in the community are marching in the city and we are all calling for the same thing, we want a humane end to this conflict, we want a settlement and a long-term peace…”
Councillors Sophie Tan and Bob Milkovic abstained from voting on the motion after a lengthy and heated debate as councillor Tim Dark firmly stood his grounds against the motion despite the overwhelming support displayed by the community.
As previously reported by Star Journal, two Melbourne councils have passed similar motions, with one now reconsidering the stance and a Merri-bek councillor claiming he’d received death threats.
The motion also calls the Victorian Government “to end its relationship with any companies whose weapons are used in the Gaza conflict,” to stop the killings of innocent civilians in Gaza under the wrath of Israel’s heavy military force.
A day prior to the council meeting, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria Inc expressed their position on the motion, labelling it “misinformed” on X.
“The JCCV has written to councillors in the City of Greater Dandenong in response to a one-sided, misinformed motion on Gaza that will be presented this week.
“The JCCV is alarmed by the rising number of local councils presenting biased motions on matters of international affairs.”
Meanwhile, the news is being celebrated amongst the ocean of miserable news of killings in Gaza as the entire community not just in Greater Dandenong but across Victoria has praised the Council on its decision as more than 6,000 children in Gaza are killed in 51 days.
The Australian International Aid have organised two fundraiser over the next week on Friday 8 December and Thursday 7 December in Dandenong in support of Palestine.