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Local Muslim Leaders Must Stand Up Against Extremism

Click here to download 20091208-StandUpAgainstExtremism.pdf

Local Muslim Leaders Must Stand Up Against Extremism

08 December 2009

According to the Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s 2009 Antisemitism Report, there has been an unprecedented increase in antisemitic incidents against Jews in Australia. The rate of anti‐Jewish violence, vandalism, harassment and intimidation is close to three times the average of the previous nineteen years.

According to the Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s 2009 Antisemitism Report, there has been an unprecedented increase in antisemitic incidents against Jews in Australia. The rate of anti‐Jewish violence, vandalism, harassment and intimidation is close to three times the average of the previous nineteen years.

Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) president John Searle stated: “In this context, it was extremely distressing to witness the level of antisemitic violence and abuse displayed by many demonstrators outside the Australia‐Israel Leadership Forum dinner on Sunday 6 December 2009.” He added that it was all the more disturbing as the demonstration was endorsed by a number of organisations including Students for Palestine, Australians for Palestine, Palestine Solidarity Committee, the Federation of Australian Muslim Students and Youth and most significantly the Islamic Council of Victoria, the peak body of Victoria’s Muslim bodies.

“It is not the first time that here in Victoria, local rallies against Israel have crossed the boundary from legitimate protest to overtly racist behaviour”, Searle continued.

“In January one protest in Melbourne against Operation Cast Lead included posters indicating that Jews “needed” another Holocaust. Again, that protest was endorsed and organised by a range of organisations, including Islamic and Palestinian representative bodies.”

Last Sunday, guests attending the Australia‐Israel Leadership Forum dinner had to run the gauntlet of some two hundred demonstrators whose armoury included calls of “Bloody Jews” and throwing projectiles at guests.

Had the demonstrators forced their way into the dinner venue, as they intended, ironically they would have heard each speaker, including Australia’s Deputy PM Julia Gillard and her Israeli counterpart Silvan Shalom, calling for resolution of the Israel/Palestinian conflict. The protestors’ vilification and violence undermined the Victorian Government’s cultural diversity policy and the work undertaken by so many people of good will to develop better relationships between Victoria’s numerous faith and ethnic groups.

“Despite my recent calls to the Islamic leadership to condemn aggressive, violent and abusive antisemitic actions, they have, to date, failed to do so” stated Searle. “The time has come for them to speak out unambiguously against racism and vilification, or alternatively to cease organising events which have such predictable outcomes. Failure to take either of these steps is tantamount to condoning racism, abuse and vilification.

It is ironic that this particular incident took place while Victoria is hosting the Parliament of World Religions, a program specifically designed to unite religions and foster harmony – values which we in the local Jewish community hold firm.

The ugly behaviour displayed by demonstrators inevitably tarnishes the name of Muslims. We look to the members of the Muslim community, its leaders in particular, to join us in condemning violence and promoting harmony. “

Please address any enquiries to Geoffrey Zygier at 03 9272 5579

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