Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Monday 13 February 2012

In Australia, Anti-Israel Leftist Fanatics Allegedly Eye[d] A Shul

The Adass community in Melbourne is a tight-knit one that keeps largely to itself.  It is centered on the district of Ripponlea, and its shul is in a quiet spot not far from the magnificent old colonial mansion that gave the district its name.  It's very near the perhaps incongruously-named Hotham Street (geddit?), where each Shabbat numerous Jews in traditional strictly Orthodox garb can be seen going to and coming from one of the relevant shuls in the area.

For a number of years I lived in the heart of this district, surrounded by members of the Adass community.  Although I was not one of them, I found them delightful neighbours.  And although I was not one of them, I occasionally experienced the harassment that is often the lot of Jews like them whose dress leaves no doubt as to what their identity is. Thus, as a pedestrian on heavily Jewish Hotham Street, I once experienced a small stone whizz past my head (the lout who hurled it from a car also yelled antisemitic abuse) and on another occasion a carload of goons called out to me "Hitler is coming!" It's the type of thing that many Jews endure from yobbos every day.

In Australia, overt antisemitism used to be largely the preserve of post-war immigrants from continental fascist backgrounds and of the homegrown right-wing League of Rights, founded in 1946 by Eric Butler, an elder of the Anglican church.  Most of the League's members believed in crackpot "funny money" ideas and in conspiracy theories, and for many years they ran a bookshop in central Melbourne stocked with all the "classics" of judeophobic literature.  Time, it would seem, has carried away most of these nutters to that land from which no traveller ever returns.

Not that the political Left, as we know, has been immune from manifesting "the longest hatred" but I can't think of any instance in which the Left, at least in any English-speaking country, would stoop so low as to target a synagogue.  (Imagine how they would react if rightwing extremists targetted a mosque!)

But that is reportedly what they aimed to do, if a current report is correct, and what's more, the Adass congregation was the one in their sights.

The report (written in three stages, including updates) claims, inter alia,  that
'Australia’s Jewish community is bracing itself for a horrifying escalation by the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” movement notionally against Israel but increasingly seen as thinly-disguised anti-Semitism.
[A] group led by former Melbourne University student union official Vashti Kenway has instructed its troops to take their Israel-hating protests to Adass Israel synagogue during the time it would have Jewish religious services, on Saturday February 25th. The protest is aimed at Rabbi Joseph Gutnick, a strong supporter of Israel, in whose honour the centre accommodating the synagogue is named....
Increasingly, Kenway and her band of protesters are blurring the lines between hating Israel and engaging in blatantly anti-Semitic protests. The move to attack a synagogue during religious services is the most blatant act in that direction we’ve seen across Australia.
Kenway’s protests have previously targeted Israeli-owned chocolate shops on the basis that some of their chocolate had been sent to the young men and women who protect Israel from those sworn to its destruction. Her behaviour was such that she and a group of comrades have been arrested and prosecuted for their riotous behaviour....
[Update] Shock and fear has swept the congregation of the Adass Gutnick Hall after learning their synagogue could be the victim of an attack by an anti-Israel group. One congregant, Norman Rosenbaum has emailed his concerns to friends, revealing that Mr Gutnick himself does not regularly attend the venue, expressing fears the angry protesters may be become frustrated and violent at the congregation if the target of their enmity is not present....
[Update] We are pleased to say the “Boycott” bigots have ... backed off their plans to attack the Addas [sic] synagogue, which had previously been the victim of arson attacks. They have moved their silly protest to an office of a company associated with Gutnick. Just as stupid but much less harmful and destructive. Being concerned about the people of the Palestinian Authority is perfectly legitimate, although it’s interesting that those who suffer much more do not generate the same concern, but this sorry episode has amply demonstrated what we’ve always suspected that there is a hideous underbelly of anti-Semitism associated with those who wish to boycott Israel....'
Read the full report here


  1. We need to organize a counter protest. Is anyone doing this? Can we have there details?

  2. Australian Students for Palestine Victoria and the Socialist Alternative

  3. No, who is organizing a counter protest?

  4. Shirlee, I'm not sure I follow your drift ...
    Did you misread Anon's question?

  5. Yes, I'd like to know if any Jewish (or other) organisations are organising some sort of counter demonstration against the BDS movement. I think for most Jews demonstrating outside a Synagogue in the heart of Jewish Melbourne is crossing a line. It's almost a pogrom mentality. I think with the right organisation we could get a few thousand people demonstrating against these people.

    If no one is organising this, and it does go ahead, could we organise a counter protest via facebook and get all the Jewish organisations on board etc.


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