Australia appoints special envoy to tackle rise in anti-Semitism in the country


MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Australian government on Tuesday appointed a special envoy to tackle the rise in anti-Semitism in the country since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas.

A similar envoy will soon be appointed to tackle Islamophobia in Australia and both will promote social cohesion, the prime minister said. Anthony Albanese told reporters at the Jewish Museum in Sydney.

Albanese’s own office in Sydney has been targeted with pro-Palestinian graffiti as rival activists clash in Australian cities and on university campuses over the war between Israel and Hamas.

Albanese appointed Jillian Segal, a Sydney lawyer and businessman, as “special envoy to combat antisemitism in Australia” for three years. She will consult with community groups and report to Albanese and Minister for Multicultural Affairs Andrew Giles.

Segal called Australia’s anti-Semitism statistics “shocking.” Reports of anti-Semitism rose 700 percent immediately after Hamas militants launched a war in Gaza by attacking Israel on Oct. 7, and are still 400 percent to 500 percent higher than before the conflict, she said.

According to Segal, Jewish businesses are being boycotted and vandalized, and Jewish artists are being excluded or shadowbanned from social media, limiting their visibility on platforms.

“Unfortunately, there is no single answer to the perennial problem of anti-Semitism,” she said.

“But the creation of this role shows the government’s determination to confront this evil and ensure it does not undermine the goodness that exists in our society,” she added.

Albanese said a graffiti attack in December, which marked his office in central Sydney as a Hamas target, was taken seriously and action was taken.

He also condemned the spray-paint vandalism at the Australian National Korean War Memorial and the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial in the national capital, Canberra, last month.

“I’ve spoken to members of the Jewish community here, in Melbourne, across Australia, who don’t feel safe, members of the Jewish community whose children are worried about wearing their school uniform in our capital cities,” Albanese said. “That’s not acceptable. Never acceptable. And certainly not in Australia in 2024.”

“What we need to do is ensure that the conflict that is happening in the Middle East and that has caused a lot of grief for the Jewish community, for members of the Muslim community and the Palestinian community – Australians generally do not want that conflict to be brought here,” Albanese added.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top