Prime Minister Gillard signs London Declaration

April 23, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
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In 2009, Parliamentarians from around the globe signed the London Declaration,  a document which strongly condemned anti-Semitism. The Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard added her signature to the document effectively linking Australia with the existing signatories.

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Yair Miller, Danny Lamm, Jill Segal, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Robert Goot and Peter Wertheim    photo: Henry Benjamin

Although she did not speak at the Sydney signing attended by community leaders, Prime Minister Gillard did prepare remarks which J-Wire publishes below…

“I am here to sign the London Declaration on Combating Anti- Semitism.  And this is why:

A synagogue vandalised in Brussels.

An explosive device detonated at a Jewish community building in Sweden.

A rabbi attacked in Berlin.

Jewish graves desecrated in Prague.

Four Jews shot and killed at a Jewish school in France.

And even in my home city of Melbourne, graffiti was sprayed painted in a shopping centre saying:

–     “The best Jew is a dead Jew”.

All these events – and hundreds more like them – occurred
in just one year:  2012.

Friends,
Anti-Semitism did not end with the conclusion of the Second World War and the fall of Nazism.

It did not end with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

It did not end with the foundation of the State of Israel.

It pollutes our world right now.

In the face of Anti-Semitism, there can be no bystanders.

As citizens, as leaders and as nations, we must act.

History and justice demand it.

Do not ask who else should act.

It is us.

Do not ask when we should act.

It is now.

That is why since 2009, leading parliamentarians from around the world have signed the London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism.

I am honoured today to be the first Australian parliamentarian to sign this historic document.

I am pleased to sign it in the presence of so many leaders of our Jewish community …

… so many of whose families came to this land seeking shelter after the event that cries out to us decades after its horror.

The Holocaust did not begin during the dark days of war.

It began decades and centuries earlier – with the hatred, the blood libels, the pogroms and expulsions…

… and, perhaps most significantly, the casual insults and violence that became part of everyday life and society.

The Holocaust began with words.

It culminated in the gas chambers.

It ended with the defeat of Nazi Germany and the liberation of the camps.

That is why through the London Declaration, we say with clear and loud voices:

–     Never Again.

Seven decades on from the war, combatting anti-Semitism is not just a matter of ensuring that we do not forget.

It is about comprehending its full and insidious horrors in the first instance.

And then keeping that knowledge alive.

That’s why education is so crucial.

The content of the history we teach in our schools.

The tenor of our public discourse.

The laws by which we regulate our civil interactions.

The tenacity with which, as nations, we stand for what is right.

I am proud to lead a nation which has done so much to fight discrimination in its laws and in its practices.

Our Parliament debated and passed motions condemning
anti-Semitism almost a decade ago.

Our anti-discrimination laws are robust.

Our courts have found that Holocaust denial and vilification of the Jewish people are illegal.

We co-sponsored the UN General Assembly Resolution 60/7, and the creation of the International Day of Commemoration
in Memory of Victims of the Holocaust.

And we sponsor regular interfaith dialogue within our own region.

So our record is a good one.

But this Declaration reminds us that combatting anti-Semitism is an active process, not a passive one.

It demands vigilance.

It means remaining alert to new vehicles by which hatred and social poison can be spread, especially through the use of emerging media platforms.

It means exerting ourselves so that future generations understand the importance of civic values like respect and tolerance.

The London Declaration is, above all, a warning and a witness to those who hold offices of public trust.

In the 1930s, another generation of leaders failed the test.

We face the same test – and we must not fail it.

Every generation is tested – and they must not fail either.

So this statement is a solemn reminder of our responsibilities, and the role Parliaments can play.

A means of reminding ourselves that we too are writing history – in our own hands.

I am therefore very proud to be the first Member of the Parliament of Australia to sign the London Declaration.

I do so with great deliberation and profound personal commitment.

And I trust that before long, the names of every Australian parliamentarian will appear alongside my own.

 

Signed

Signed

 

 

Jeremy Jones is Director of International and Community Affairs at The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council and was present as a member of an international panel of experts on anti-Semitisma t the initial signing in 2009. He told J-Wire: “The U.K. held an all-party enquiry into anti-Semitism during the mid-part of the 2000s. It was an all-party committee who decided this was an issue that had to be addressed internationally involving parliamentarians of all countries and was not a right-wing or a left-wing issue. I was the only member from our region on the experts’ panel. There were no parliamentarians from Australia so obviously at that time we were not a signatory. A subsequent conference was attended by Michael Danby, Peter Wertheim and Senator Scott Ryan. So there was an international understanding of one of the evils which exists…that of anti-Semitism. Today’s signing does not mean that Australia is one of the last countries to sign. It’s not about countries..it’s about individual parliamentarians and that’s what happened today.”

Dr Danny Lamm president of the The Executive Council of Australian Jewry added: “Australia, as a respected nation around the world, in joining this  London Declaration, can only help in our battle against anti-Semitism. We are very grateful to the Prime Minister for making the declaration.”

Comments

15 Responses to “Prime Minister Gillard signs London Declaration”
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    You might well be right, Otto. However, what I say about cynicism is true. It completely gets in the way of the capacity for good judgement. It dictates its own impressions every time, regardless of people, situations or circumstances. And super confidence is a very dangerous thing. Take care, my friend.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear Liat

      “super confidence” is not bad at all, what’s bad is false confidence.
      I fully agree with you that excessive or misplaced cynicism affects one’s capacity for empathy, for instance. Yet, in matters political we gain a lot if not influenced by the demagogical or improvised professionalism, as we see far too often with our politicians – Australian in particular -.
      I am now in Italy, but been through Spain and France for a few good weeks in each.
      Their political scene has been dominated by scandals seemingly forever. Yet the political discourse within the media has acquired an intensity AND in some places depth which leave Australia to the kindy level.
      Factors are quite a few and I will not settle for the “young country” syndromme. I will settle for the cynical DETACHMENT of the Australian psyche, one which is not dictated by the intellectual flow but by the Pub mentality grog flow, an environment where, among some other things, politics IS not to be discussed.
      I was in a small cafe in Perpignan the other day and all and sundry were discussing at the bar politics freely, seriously, no idiotic jokes. I then joined in a demo/public music & Catalan dance show for the promotion of Catalan culture – Perpignian/ Perpinya is part of Nord Catalunya – and joined in decent over two hour long discussion of political ideologies with a few local communists……..what a delight……….stuff that in Australia you are loath to touch ( and both the local wine, coffee and pastries were to die for !!).
      I also speak good Italian and here, in Torino, you can talk politics with anyone and hear clever stuff, cynicism of the useful kind mixed with decent humor and excellent knowledge and NOBODY pissed out of their brains !!!!!!
      French, Spanish and Italian media have a few TV channels each debating politics for HOURS EVERY NIGHT !!!! They invite academics, authors and also journalists and politicians. The linguistic level, depth of debate etc. are an inspiration and people watch and listen !!! not the early Sunday morn 1 hr on ABC, same on Ch. 10 and 7 then back to Koshi and footy !!! for bloody ever.

      ………..to be continued

  2. Liat Nagar says:

    Julia Gillard’s comments are succinct and specific within their comprehensiveness; they seem to me to be more than just political rhetoric. For the cynics: try to leave behind your cynicism occasionally. If not, you run the risk of never being able to judge the sincerity of a given situation, which will limit your ability to respond effectively and appropriately.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear Liat

      as a born, bred and super confident cynic, I am compelled to observe that, should you read the label on the politicians’ packaging, you shall find under composition: ” 110% cynicism “.

      Otherwise, the PM did everything expected of any individual at the Dantesque gates with the inscription ” You who are about to enter an election, abandon any hopes ! ” kinda ” Voi che entrate lasciate ogni speranza. “

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear Liat

      as a born, bred and super confident cynic, I am compelled to observe that, should you read the label on the politicians’ packaging, you shall find under composition: ” 110% cynicism “.

      Otherwise, the PM did everything expected of any individual at the Dantesque gates with the inscription ” You who are about to enter an election, abandon any hopes ! ” kinda ” Voi che entrate lasciate ogni speranza. “

  3. Otto Waldmann says:

    I really, really wonder if “our” Julia thought that a message condemning anti Semitism was most relevant to the ………..Jews……..rather to those responsible for it !!!! This MUST be the reason she reckoned JWire and its readers should know the facts about anti Semitism………..
    Does she really know the difference in terms of the NECESSARY “receipients” of the message !!??

    Observe how all our Yidishe mates in the picture are about to burst into laughter !!! I reckon they got the schtick.

  4. Denise says:

    Hooray Julia GIlard; this is the best and most honest thing I have heard you “say”. WHat a pity you didn’t actually “say” it! WHy don’t you speak out these good strong truthful statements in Parliament or to the general press? Why is this only reported in the Jewish press? The general population needs to hear this; the world needs to hear this – that Australians do not support anti-semitism! (Or is Julia afraid that her comments might be attract an anti Islam label?)

    Anyway, Julia’s comments were really positive and very much needed and is what I would expect from the leader of our great country. I do hope that all Australian Members of Parliament will also publically make that declaration of support against the evil of anti-semitism; it will draw a line in the sand here.

  5. David says:

    Could you please post a copy of the London Declaration and the list of signatories to date. The Prime Minister’s statement sends a strong and powerful message and I hope hers will be the first of many signatures from her Parliamentary colleagues of all political persuasions.

  6. Anne says:

    What a moving and thoughtful declaration from Julia Gillard and a telling summation of the escalation of antisemitism globally. What a pity that the Prime Minister’s significant address was not delivered at a major gathering and covered by the country’s media, as her action and example deserve commendation not only by the Jewish community but also by all concerned with human rights and social justice.

  7. PATRICIA says:

    BETTER LATE THAN NEVER. GLAD TO SEE GILLARD FINALLY GOT ON BOARD.

  8. Gary says:

    So… it took Labor 5 years to work out that this was important. I wonder if this vote-grabbing gesture had anything to do with thoughtlessly calling the election on Yom Kippur.

  9. Otto Waldmann says:

    Yes, it took Labor five years in Government to sign the Documnt since its inaugural date, but who is counting…………..

    • Rami says:

      True Otto, but she signed now and thats the important thing.

      • Otto Waldmann says:

        True Rami, but do you want to know how much my prostate gland has grown in the past five years and I put it all down to this delay………………..

    • aryeh leib says:

      It was probably only signed because it is now an election year.

      Signing the document is terrific, but, after so many years of ignoring the issue…..

      We can only guess the true feelings.

      What makes it worse for me is that I have been a LABOR supporter since university days/.

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