Community message from JCCV President, Philip Zajac.
OUR ALLIES STAND WITH US
This week, an expert Jewish communicator from the US has been meeting with community leaders, Jewish student leaders and volunteers to help us to improve the way we advocate for our community and against anti-Jewish hate.
Zachary Schaffer, co-founder of Project Shema, really impressed me with his practical advice on how to communicate our concerns and our fears. One of the most important things he said was that this conflict has seen our enemies get louder and our allies become quieter.
Part of our work at the JCCV is persuading our allies to stand with us – the interfaith leaders who have worked productively with us in the past, councils that have not passed motions that understand the need to practically combat antisemitism, principals and teachers who understand that students should not be exposed to propaganda but should be taught to be critical thinkers.
Using some of the tools Zachary has given us, the JCCV will be doing just that. I thank the Australian Jewish Funders for sponsoring Zachary’s visit to Australia.
Police arrested two men in conjunction with the arson at Burgertory in Caufield last November. At the same time, police reiterated that this crime was not hate-motivated.
You no doubt remember the slander against the Victorian Jewish community after this arson attack, blaming our community for the crime.
This slander led to one of the worst nights in our community’s history.
We will never forget the night aggressive protesters descended on Caulfield and led to a situation where Jewish people were injured on the streets of Caulfield and hundreds were left unable to safely attend shule, visit family for Shabbat dinner, or walk the streets of their own neighbourhood.
This situation was allowed to get completely out of hand and the JCCV commits to continuing our work with the Victorian Government to develop stronger laws against incitement and hate crimes.
The JCCV continues to engage with councillors from around Melbourne to help them understand the impact of October 7 on our community and the rise in anti-Jewish hate since that date. This week, our CEO, Naomi Levin, met with Councillor Nick Stavrou from City of Boroondara. We also welcomed the mayor of City of Hobson’s Bay, Cr Matt Tyler, and his colleague Cr Antoinette Briffa, to Melbourne Hebrew Congregation.
While our community has heard from many hostile councillors in recent weeks, we are pleased to say that we also have many allies.
The Department of Education’s Combatting Antisemitism Consultative Group met on Monday. We were pleased to hear, in the lead up to that meeting, that planned protests outside Prahran High School were not going ahead. The idea that any students, but especially Jewish students, would have been subjected to pro-Palestinian demonstrators outside their school was alarming.
Discussion continues between our educational institutions – UJEB, Courage to Care, Melbourne Holocaust Museum, Jewish Museum of Australia and others – and the Department of Education on the best ways to educate against antisemitism. For this group, it is not enough that resources, tours and programs are made available, we need to ensure that as many students, families and teachers as possible are accessing them.
We are receiving reports of horrendous antisemitic and anti-Israel graffiti across the state – from Middle Park to Altona to Euroa. We urge any community members who see graffiti of this nature to take a photo and upload it to CSG’s JEAP app and also Snap Send Solve (available online or in the app store) for removal. If it is not removed within a few days, please contact the JCCV office for further advice.