Community message from JCCV President, Philip Zajac.
LET OUR LIGHT SHINE BRIGHT
On Thursday, we will light the first Chanukah candle for the year. This year, more than many others, we truly need the light that the Chanukiah brings into our lives and our homes.
It has been another difficult week for our community.
While we are overjoyed that dozens of hostages have now been returned, the news was tempered by stories of torture, cruelty and depravity that these hostages have begin to tell. There are also still more than 100 Israelis still held by Hamas in Gaza.
On Wednesday night, I had the privilege of meeting in Melbourne with family members of Israelis killed or kidnapped by Hamas. You could not help but be moved to tears listening to what they went through. But these are strong Jewish people, determined to fight for their family members and fight for our Jewish homeland. What became clear during our short meeting is that we are all family, we hurt when Israel hurts.
I would like to pay tribute to the courage of our visitors: Iris Haim (mother of Yotam Haim who remains a hostage in Gaza), Mika Shani (sister of Amit Shani, who was released by Hamas on the night Mika was in Melbourne), Ofir Tamir and Amit Parpara (friends of Noa Argamani, who remains in Gaza), Tali Kizhner (mother of Segev Kizhner who was murdered by Hamas) and Elad Levy (uncle of Roni Eshel, who was murdered by Hamas).
After their event, the family members sought to return to their hotel. As you will no doubt be aware, they were met by some of the world’s most callous demonstrators. These protesters covered their faces, held fake blood covered props and screamed at these innocent civilians. How anyone can think this is an acceptable form of protest is just beyond me.
In response, I met with the Minister for Multicultural Affairs Ingrid Stitt on Thursday, in the hours after the protest to try and help her understand the impact of yet another hateful protest on our Victorian Jewish community. I will be following up with the Police Minister Anthony Carbines as well. How many times does our community need to watch as Victoria Police let these protesters get away with their hate, violence and psychological terror?
It is getting to the point where words of condemnation are no longer enough. If no action is taken against these callous thugs, they will be empowered to continue.
TEACHERS FOR PALESTINE
The JCCV has also been working hard with the Victorian Department of Education to minimise the impact on students of the threatening Teachers for Palestine movement.
Schools are a place of education, not a place for teacher activism. The idea that students, including Jewish students, would be forced to sit through biased, one-sided propaganda at the whim of a Victorian school teacher is completely unacceptable.
We were heartened by the strong media statement from the Minister for Education Ben Carroll and message to teachers from the Department of Education.
The JCCV will continue to work hard to ensure all students, particularly Jewish students in non-Jewish schools, can learn in a safe environment. Our kids should not be subjected to activism.
I urge you all to continue living a proud Jewish life. Join me and other faith and community leaders at the Walk for Unity, this afternoon, 5pm at the Kings Domain, South Yarra. We are walking to say no to racism and yes to respect.
There are many communal Chanukah celebrations planned, please take your children and grandchildren! We are so fortunate to have the protection of CSG and the support of Victoria Police. Turn out in force and enjoy the festival.
If you do witness any antisemitism, please contact CSG via the JEAP app or on 1300 000 274.
And for accurate, reliable information about community matters, please follow the JCCV and CSG on social media