Alternative Jewish Voices 'horrified' by NZ Jewish Council's 'Hezbollah' comment at anti-terrorism hui

An alternative New Zealand Jewish group says it's "horrified" by comments made about the Israel-Palestine conflict at NZ's first annual hui to combat terrorism.

Muslim community members walked out of the inaugural hui in Christchurch on Tuesday, after NZ Jewish Council spokesperson Juliet Moses said leaders needed to be consistent in censuring terrorism.

"We need to hear leaders condemn all support for terrorism and all terrorism equally whatever the source, target and circumstances, and even when it is not politically expedient to do so," she said in a speech.

"Hezbollah and Hamas, their military wings are proscribed terror organisations in New Zealand but we saw a rally in support of Hezbollah on Queen St in 2018."

Some members of the crowd responded by shouting "free Palestine" before walking out of the hui. Alternative Jewish Voices says it's "saddened to hear such a kaupapa has been disrespected".

"We are, additionally, horrified to hear Jewish Council spokesperson Juliet Moses double down on her claim that she was expressing the sentiment of our national Jewish community," the organisation said in a statement.

It was "wrong" to use the hui for such statements, it said.

"We feel for those who have been hurt but we are heartened to hear that the hui will continue with its mission.

"Such statements are wrong, period; and it was additionally wrong to bring those politics into the anti-terrorism venue in particular."

Gamal Fouda, the Imam of the Al Noor Mosque targeted in the 2019 Christchurch attacks, said on Facebook the comments stereotyped "New Zealand Muslims of supporting terrorism".  

Politicians have also weighed in, including National MP Simon Bridges.

"@JulietMosesNZ shouted at with 'free Palestine' etc when making moderate points on a panel at Govt Hui on countering terrorism and violent extremism," he said on Twitter. "Several protest and leave. While it was only a minority, it's a shame to see at a forum on tolerance."

But Green MP Golriz Ghahraman described the comments as "shameful".

"It's wrong to suggest Muslim communities standing with Palestinians are automatically responsible for and answerable for Hezbollah and Hamas," she said in a tweet. "It's offensive and has no place here."

Bronwyn Hayward, a politics professor from the University of Canterbury, said she too walked out of the hui and believed a "more thoughtful" way was needed to have such conversations.

Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa chair John Minto described it as an "opportunistic attack".

"Moses is tone-deaf to Islamophobia and anti-Arab and Anti-Palestinian racism," he said in a statement.

Later on Tuesday, Moses shared an extract of her speech on Twitter to clarify her comments.

"I never mentioned Israel or Palestine. I expressed concern about a 2018 Hezbollah rally on Queen St.

"Many others at the conference agreed. As do my Iranian refugee friends."

The hui continues in Christchurch on Wednesday. An annual counter-terrorism hui was one of 44 recommendations made by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the 2019 mosque attacks.