Community message

Community message from JCCV President, Philip Zajac.


After last week’s incident at Mount Scopus College, where a violent message was scrawled across the gates of a Jewish school, I heard loud and clear from our community that “enough is enough”.

As I sat down to write my speech for Wednesday night’s annual Yom Ha’atzmaut cocktail event, it was this sentiment that I kept front of mind. The JCCV is your representative, it is my role to ensure our political leaders know how you are feeling.

We were grateful to have Premier Jacinta Allan, Opposition Leader John Pesutto and many members of the Government and Opposition in attendance, as well as leaders of other faith and cultural communities, and Jewish community leaders. Below is the speech I delivered, thanking the Premier and Opposition Leader for their support so far, but urging them to redouble their efforts. 

Thank you Premier for your thoughtful and supportive remarks, and in advance to the Opposition Leader.
I would also like to acknowledge the support tonight of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, represented here tonight by one of my predecessors and now ECAJ secretary, Anton Block AM.
“Peace is a purpose—a goal worthy of the chase, while war is a function—born out of reluctant necessity.”
No, I have not become a poet, I am quoting Shimon Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient and Israeli statesman.
No one in Israel wants this war. No one in Australia wants this war. It was, as Shimon Peres said, born of reluctant necessity, the massacre of October 7 that can never be forgotten by the world.
But I agree with Peres that peace is a purpose that is worthy of the chase. For me, that peace needs to be chased in Israel, in Gaza and at home, here in Victoria.
Our society is not at peace at the moment. This was a discussion I had just last week with Bishop Philip Huggins and Rabbi Ralph Genende. It is all of our responsibilities, as community leaders, to chase peace.
I thank Premier Allan and Mr Pesutto not only for your heartfelt remarks here tonight, but also for your regular contact with so many in our community. You, and many members of your respective frontbenches, and parties, are excellent listeners. We know you hear our concerns, and we thank you for your attention and your empathy.
When I took on this role I had a vision for the Jewish Community of Victoria. To build on the foundations of the Holocaust survivors, to make our schools, shules and institutions strong. We as Jews are good corporate citizens, we participate in civic life and contribute to the greater good of Victoria.

But things have changed.

I cannot safely walk across Spring St, because I am a Jew.

I cannot go to the State Library on Sunday, because I am a Jew.

We are spat on and pushed, because we are a Jews.

The school I went to, my wife went to, my children went to is under attack. Parents and students don’t feel safe, because they are Jews.
It’s enough, it’s enough. There need to be consequences.

The Victorian Jewish community is incredibly proud of the longstanding and consistent bi-partisan support for Israel and the Jewish community over many decades.

We know that you, Premier and Leader of the Opposition, stand with us in the battle against antisemitism. This is not just a battle for the Jewish community but for all Victorians, and we have been consistent in our ask over these past seven months:

  • Maintain moral clarity.  We ask that you continue to speak out with moral clarity to all Victorians making it clear that antisemitic rhetoric and incitement has not place in the great state of Victoria. A speech to a large audience, rather than an obscure tweet, will resonate best through the community.
  • Consequences for government-appointed officers who cross the line. Individuals who are employed by the Government and cross the line must be held accountable. We know those who have engaged in intimidatory, and potentially unlawful behaviour, do not reflect the Premier’s views.  It is critical that these handful of individuals are held accountable.
  • Urgent law reform. This Government accepted 34 recommendations to increase anti-vilification laws in September 2021. Only one of those recommendations has been implemented nearly three years on. It is time for an urgent bipartisan effort to implement the remaining recommendations. This Government also appointed an Anti-Racism Taskforce in 2021. The Taskforce’s strategy is now two years overdue.
  • Security funding for schools. Jewish families are paying large security levies to keep their kids safe in school which is increasingly making Jewish education in Victoria unaffordable. The Government and Opposition have supported security funding for the community for many years and the need has never been greater. Meanwhile, government security grants are being paid out to denominational schools with far lower risk profiles.
  • An increased focus on education around respect, antisemitism and the Holocaust –We know that one of the best ways to address antisemitism and intolerance is through education. We are proud of the critical partnerships between the Andrews Government and Gandel Foundation on Holocaust education. Education is the best way to build lasting social cohesion in Victoria.

As well as the awful events at Mount Scopus, this week, I heard that one of our board members was called an “f-ing Jew” while walking down the street in East St Kilda. And the JCCV is currently assisting a man who was left bleeding after an assault by pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

The time for listening is over. The time for action is here.
To the leaders here tonight, whether you lead a small organisation, a congregation, a community, a local council or a state government, it is time to chase peace.

Premier and Leader of the Opposition we see you as critical partners in helping us continue to live as proud Victorian Jews.

This is no ordinary Yom Ha’atzmaut – we are living through history and I have every confidence that together we can meet the challenge and ensure the safety and wellbeing of the Victorian Jewish community so that we can continue to build a cohesive and successful State that is the envy of the world.


This weeks’ Community Koved goes to Hallely Kimchi, Habayit Director and part of the Zionism Victoria team. The always energetic Hallely was a driving force who led successful community events for Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut in challenging times. Hallely has also worked hard to ensure our Jewish community responds to the needs of the growing number of Israeli-born Victorians.

We thank you Hallely for never giving up, for putting in your heart and soul into everything you do!

Please send your nominations for Community Koved to community@jccv.org.au