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Labor ‘must do more to stamp out anti-semitism’

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6 December 2023, The Australian, by Ben Packham

The opposition says the Albanese government is to blame for new travel warnings for Israelis visiting Australia, arguing it has failed to do enough to stem rising anti-Semitism around the country.

As Israel resumed its ground offensive in Gaza, the nation’s national security council raised the threat level for its citizens travelling in Australia and dozens of other countries, urging them to take extra precautions.

The move follows a world-wide rise in attacks on Jews, including in Australia where incidents of anti-Semitism have risen almost sevenfold.

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham said the government needed to do more to stamp out the “shameful” behaviour seen at anti-Israel protests across Australia. “The fact that Jewish people and Israeli citizens are now being told to take precautions when they come to Australia is a stain on our nation that Prime Minister Albanese must work to remove,” he said.

“Addressing this should be on the agenda for national cabinet. Prime Minister Albanese should be seeking a consensus statement of all national leaders condemning anti-Semitism, committing to combat it, committing to education and committing to the police resources and efforts to ensure that the types of intimidation we have seen are stamped out.”

Other countries slapped with the new “Level 2” travel warning include the UK, France, Italy and Germany, but Israel’s threat level for the US remains unchanged at “Level 1”.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong told the Senate that all parliamentarians should be concerned about the rise of anti-Semitism in Australia, and must denounce it.

Referring to a Nazi rally in Ballarat over the weekend, Senator Wong said such behaviour must be met with “uncompromising condemnation”.

“Sadly it comes at a time when we see a rise in anti-Semitism more broadly. Nazism, fascism cannot be normalised,” she said. “They are ideologies that work by dehumanising, by singling out people as second class citizens.”

Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-chief executive Alex Ryvchin said the warnings reflected “a damning new reality of soaring anti-Semitism” at home and abroad.

“The fact that being identifiably Israeli or Jewish now comes with risks is a national shame,” he said.

“Many families have chosen to cover Jewish symbols, and have warned their children not to mention Israel or anything Jewish in public.”

He said the anti-Israel movement had created an environment where it was permissible to target Jewish businesses, deny the October 7 attacks, threaten Jews online, and even call for the destruction of Israel.

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Article source: The Australian | Ben Packham | 6.12.23

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000