Rosh Hashanah greetings from the ECAJ

September 22, 2014 by  
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President of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry Robert Goot has sent a special Rosh Hashanah greeting to J-Wire readers…

This year demonstrated what can be achieved through positive, unified community action and the great perils that come from the breakdown of community harmony.

Robert Goot

Robert Goot

The successful campaign to retain section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act was certainly a high point for the ECAJ and every organisation that supported the campaign. The establishment of a diverse coalition of ethnic groups, unified by a common belief in multiculturalism, revealed the best of our rich and diverse society and showed the power of community activism in our vibrant democracy.

Public rallies in support of Israel, particularly the magnificent event in Dover Heights during the Gaza war, which attracted around 10,000 people, were a source of great pride for the community. We were also heartened by strong statements of support for Israel from the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition among others.

Determined action by the Jewish community also forced a rare public apology from Fairfax media over the publication of an overtly antisemitic cartoon in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The low point was without question the attacks on Israel by Hamas and the fallout of the retaliatory action by Israel in defence of its citizens and the impact it has had on Australian society.  This was used once again, as a pretext for antisemitic behavior and hate crimesin Australia. A sharp rise in antisemitic incidents, including violent assaults and threats of violence against schoolchildren, have shaken our community and underscored our vulnerability. They have also demonstrated the need for governments and organs of civil society to protect society’s most threatened communities and to invest in education as a means of restoring harmony and social cohesion.

The year has been marked by extraordinary cruelty and suffering. The brazen, despicable acts of Islamist supremacists, including Boko Haram’s mass abductions, Hamas’s abduction and murder of three teenage boys, and the barbaric crimes of Islamic State have sharpened the focus on violent extremism both at home and abroad, and have impacted on the sense of security of all Australians. They underscore the existential threat to Israel and its need to be vigilant.

A campaign by Bob Carr to influence Labor’s position on the Arab- Israel has eroded what was once rock solid support for Israel within the ALP. Disturbing public statements by senior figures in the ALP, including Tony Burke, and the involvement of some ALP officials in the Lee Rhiannon/Melissa Parke anti-Israel petition, pose a significant challenge to the relationship between the ALP and the Jewish community.

Whilst the challenges facing our community are great,  we have demonstrated that we can meet these challenges effectively through determined and united action.

 

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