by GRACE JOHNSON
In response to rising incidents of racism and anti-semitism, a coalition of Jewish scholars, historians, human rights lawyers and writers have joined together to form the Jewish Council of Australia.
The Council was also formed in response to an increasing need for an independent expert body to address antisemitism and racism in Australia, according to a statement.
Part of their aim is also to acknowledge the diversity of views within the Jewish community, particularly with regards to the worsening situation in Gaza.
“We are concerned that many Jewish representative organisations in Australia fail to recognise that the Jewish community has diverse views on Israel’s military actions and conflate criticism of Israel, and support for Palestinian human rights, with antisemitism,” said the Council in a statement.
Publisher Louise Adler AM said, “The Jewish Council is an important initiative. The next generation of Australian Jews is resisting the pressure applied by the Jewish establishment to defend Israel and the Occupation.”
Sarah Schwartz, human rights lawyer and Executive Officer of the Jewish Council of Australia, said “We founded the Jewish Council because most of our Jewish representative organisations in Australia fail to represent Jews who are critical of Israel and support a ceasefire and freedom for Palestinians.”
Criticism of Israel has recently been painted in the media as anti-semitic. Journalist Antoinette Lattouf was sacked from her short-term position at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) after posting about Gaza. Pro-Israel groups accused her of bias and anti-semitism.
The Sydney Morning Herald found through leaked WhatsApp messages that Lattouf was sacked as a result of a co-ordinated letter-writing campaign from pro-Israel lobbyists.
Sarah Schwartz, human rights lawyer and Executive Officer of the Jewish Council of Australia, insisted that “No government or country is beyond criticism and accountability.”
Speaking for the Council, Schwartz said, “We are concerned about the rising discourse in Australia, promoted by Israel lobby groups, which conflates antisemitism with support for Palestinian human rights.”
“This discourse inaccurately and dangerously paints all Jewish people as being supportive of Israel’s military actions and human rights abuses.”