17 May 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wellington City Council Must Not Exclude Pro-Palestinian Political Speech
The reported actions of Wellington’s Mayor blocking the lighting up of the Michael Fowler Centre to commemorate the Nakba Day – a day of remembrance to mark the Arab loss in the Israel/ Arab war of 1948 – is an abuse of office that tramples the free speech rights of councilors and citizens. Free Speech Union spokesperson Dane Giraud – a member of New Zealand’s Jewish community – agrees that the display would undoubtably cause offense and for some to feel unsafe, but the Jewish community could be made less safe should the display not proceed.
“Wellington Mayor Andy Foster has already said that he vetoed the display after concerns from the Israeli embassy and other Jewish groups. Though the decision was Foster's, by doing it in our name we will carry the blame for this censorship. This risks resentment which could in turn be exploited by some of the politicians who were calling for this”.
“If democratically elected councilors had unanimously voted for this then they have a right to their freedom of expression. If voters feel this is beyond the pale there are always elections where they can make their thoughts known”.
“The Jewish community has the option of meeting with Councilors and presenting counter-narratives. That is a far better course of action than censoring this, or any display”.
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