Sirens sound in Australia

November 18, 2012 by  
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Sirens emulating Israeli warnings alerting its population to an impending rocket attack have been sounded in rallies in Melbourne and Sydney.

From Melbourne Michelle Coleman reports:

Melbourne – a sea of red

South Caulfield’s Princes Park was ablaze with red this morning in a show of support for the State of Israel. Despite sporadic rain showers, approximately 2,000 people, including Federal and State parliamentarians and a host of community leaders, attended a solidarity rally wearing red to symbolise the ‘code red’ situation in Israel. The rally was organised by the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA), the Zionist Council of Victoria (ZCV), the Australian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) and the Australian Zionist Youth Council.

ZFA president Philip Chester

The formal proceedings commenced with the singing of Australia Fair, after which ZFA President Philip Chester read a message from Israeli Ambassador to Australia Yuval Rotem. “Enough is enough. Israel exercises its most fundamental duty as a nation to defend its people. We are not going to apologise for that because that is what every other nation would do for its citizens.

“In one hand we’ll hold the sword when it is necessary to defend ourselves but in the other hand we will never let go of the olive branch, and we’ll keep this hand extended to those who will one day like to have peace with us… Our rallies send a crucial message to the people of Israel that we are with them,” Rotem wrote.

Melbourne rallies

Senator Scott Ryan, Liberal Senator for Victoria and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Small Business and Fair Competition, spoke of the suffering of those living in Israel’s South. “Please stand with the people of Israel who seek nothing more than peace and safety… Every government has a duty to defend that – in Australia we would tolerate no less,” he said.

Sam Tatarka, president of the Zionist Council of Victoria, called for a minute of silence in memory of the three Israelis who have been killed in the current conflict, as well as innocent citizens in Gaza whom “Hamas puts in harm’s way”.

Daniel Nash, president of AUJS, spoke in support of Israel on behalf of the large number of youth who attended the rally, while Member for Caulfield David Southwick and Member for Footscray Marsha Thomson, co-convenors of the Victorian Parliamentary Friends of Israel, read out a letter of support.

Members of the youth movements led the prayers for the Welfare of the State of Israel and the Israel Defence Forces, as well as several popular Israeli songs including peace chant Salaam Shalom.

Mark Dreyfus QC, Federal Member for Isaacs, expressed the Government’s support for Israel by reading out a statement by the Prime Minister last Friday in which Ms Gillard condemned Hamas rocket attacks and called for the return to peace negotiations.

ZFA president Philip CHester told J-Wire: “It was wonderful to see the Jewish community come out in support of Israel. We want peace in the area so that Israelis can resume normal lives.”

The rally concluded with the singing of Hatikvah.

Henry Benjamin reports from Sydney.

Young supporters Photo: Cathy Ninio

Showing the flag Photo: Cathy Ninio

In Sydney over 2000 members of the community and supporters packed the Misrachi Synagogue in Bondi which overflowed to its surrounding grounds where speakers relayed the rally.

A spokesperson for the SZCNSW said: “All the Zionist youth movements were represented.”

Speeches were delivered by former SZCNSW president Dr Ron Weiser and current president Richard Balkin.

Balkin told J-Wire: “The rally and its meaning can be described in three words – ‘Enough is Enough’! But it was reassuring to see bipartisan support from the State government and especially encouraging to see so many young people. They appeared to celebrate the release of Gilad Shalit and we were thrilled to see so many of them again today. Our community’s future is in good hands. Balkin also said that the crowd of 2000 reflects on the Gen08  report which claimed that 78% of the community identified with the Zionist cause.

Gabrielle Upton and Walt Secord talk to Joel Schreiber Photo: Cathy Ninio

Offering support to the all red audience were Members of the NSW State Parliament Gabrielle Upton and Walt Secord who both addressed the audience. In his speech, Secord said:  “While my colleague Gabrielle Upton and I differ on many issues in the NSW Parliament we are united today as supporters of Israel and the Jewish people.

I can only describe my experience with Judaism and Israel as life changing – and it has bonded me to your faith and the cause of Israel throughout my career.

 That was why I attended a similar rally almost 22 years ago, in January 1991 as a reporter with the Australian Jewish News.  This was during the first Gulf war as Iraqi scud missiles rained down on Tel Aviv and Haifa.

 At that time, the community came together to express its solidarity with Israel.

 Almost 22 years later, I stand here as the Deputy chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel; a State Labor Shadow Minister and as a person of Christian faith who supports and believes in Zionism.

 I also stand here as a person who unequivocally supports Israel’s right to defend herself.

 Today, we are united in our condemnation of the repeated rocket and mortar attacks on Israel from Gaza. We have one voice as we call on Hamas to cease those attacks immediately.

 So far this year, more than 800 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza.  In the last 24 hours alone, there have been more than 100.  And for the first time in decades, rockets have reached Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

 No nation and its citizens should have to face such indiscriminate and unrelenting attacks.  And I know that Israel has to defend herself, but does so with great and profound sadness.

In January, I stood on a small hill at Sderot in the western Negev overlooking Gaza.  I travelled to Sderot to see first-hand; to be there; and to understand what the briefings and news clips can never tell you.

 Not only do you see the proximity of Gaza to Sderot. You could feel it.   I understood why you cannot wear seat belts in Sderot.  It is because it is a mere 840 metres from Gaza. If there is an air raid, an Israeli has 15 seconds to seek shelter.

 Our Parliament supports Israel. Labor supports Israel. support Israel.  I pray for Israel.

 And I pray that, despite the current attacks that a two-State solution and reconciliation is possible between Israelis and Palestinians.

 But the attacks must stop first.  That is non-negotiable.”

Prayers were recited by Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence, Rabbi Selwyn Franklin and Rabbi Benzion Milecki to honour those who lost their lives during the recent attacks, for the IDF and for the State of Israel itself.

In Canberra, a solidarity group of over 50 supporters gathered outside the Israeli Embassy. Ambassador Yuval Rotem exited the embassy to speak to the group.

Dr Danny Lamm. the president of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry told J-Wire: “The Australian Jewish community has come out in force to show its solidarity with the people of Israel. Both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have supported Israel’s right to protect itself against terrorism. This is a war against terrorism.”

Perth Rally

He added: ” In the U.S., the State Department has given Israel total support following Hams’s attempts to destabilise the region. The notion that the two sides should be treated equally is preposterous.  Israel does not have a peace partner. Instead it is up against a factory of lies.”

The Perth Jewish community wore red to a rally demonstrating support for Israel. Over 500 people gathered at Carmel Primary School last night.

Members of the Rabbinate, politicians, representatives of youth groups and the State Zionist Council attended.




5 Responses to “Sirens sound in Australia”
  1. Otto Waldmann says:


    precisely my points, already posted elsewhere.

    We must consider the following:

    – the demo was publcised as being held in the large pak adjacent to the shul. I have great respect for the Mizrahi, but if they would have advertised a meeting inside the synagogue I doubt very much that I would have bothered.
    – as I and some of my family arrived I noticed that the synagogue was already filled up to capacity. Yet, as mentioned, most people were outside milling around aimlessly. Surel y red Tshirts, some signs, a few flags, but nothing else. At the outset of the formal proceedings, NSWZC Pres. Balkin announced that , due to advice received from some security entity, it has been deemed advisable that the demo should be held INSIDE. So, there were security concerns ! fair enough.

    YET :

    – two thirds, or more, were left ouside where , if you remember, it was deemed as UNSAFE. Nobody advised the crowd left in an assumed unsafe situation to be mindful of the inherent, assumed risks !!
    So, first irresponsibel act.
    – As the outside was considered unsafe, guess how many police were asigned to the unsafe situation ?!
    I will tell you how many: a grand total force of …THREE cops, two blokes and one policewoman !!! All that security protection for some one thousand people. So, a second irresponsible act, police protection totally unsuitable for the advised notion of “safety”. Or was there REALLY a safety issue !!!??
    I seriously doubt it.

    These, and a lot more, are questions that the organisers MUST answer.

    Here we are, having the guts to organise in Sydney a demonstration in support of Israel once every, roughly, ten years, we plan it in a “civilised” way, without causing any disruption to those unattached to our cause and, what you see from the organisers we depend on, a catastrophic failure !!!

  2. Otto Waldmann says:

    Can anyone see a so called communal leader makind the slightest attempt at explaining what happened to the Sydney fiasco demo !!!
    Of course not, and that shows how consistent they are and justified our criticism is !!

    • Shirlee. says:

      Otto dear,

      I and others have been there before you.

      I was told that it’s not the issue of the B of Deps, but that of the ZCNSW. That’s where I made my complaint.

      People like my father who proudly and openly proclaimed their Jewishness in the East End of London, in the face of Oswald Mosley and his Fascist Party, must be turning in their graves.

      I can still clearly see ‘the Blackshirt’ newspaper sitting on the kitchen table, showing a photo of my father with the words “We have to put an end permanently to this man, not only is he a Communist, he is a Jew”.

      My father never hid, he never cowered. He refused police protection. He stood proud and tall. It was instilled into me not to be afraid even whilst the death threats were current, and I wasn’t allowed out without Police protection.

      Dreadful thing to have to say but on Sunday I was ashamed.

      Ashamed that we hidden away from the public gaze on the pretext of security.

      Whose security pray tell?

      Two thirds of the people were outside anyhow.

      I asked the CSG what those outside where suppose to do, only to be told it was it was the luck of the draw and to make the most of it.

  3. Shirlee. says:

    I went to the Rally today in Sydney and I like many who stayed away, and many who left early, am ashamed. Many left when a man had the guts to stand up and say what most people thought.

    I am ashamed that the ZCNSW didn’t stand up for us to be counted, instead of having us cower in the Mizrachi synagogue, instead of the slightly less humiliating venue of Barracluff Park.

    This was a disgrace and I’m ashamed that we couldn’t hold our heads up high and proudly.

  4. Rita says:

    1. Although I could not make it to the meeting, I wore red all day in support of Israel.

    2. I am very disappointed with the Australian Foreign Minister who saw it fit to put the agressors, the terrorist organisation HAMAS au par with the State of Israel (whose civilians are the specific targets of near daily rocket attacks).

    I am glad that our Prime Minister did the right thing as did the Opposition leader, his deputy and other members of the coalition. It’s good to know that in this case ethics kicked in and bipartisanship prevailed.

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