“Legislation like this will ensure we do not forget the lessons of history, and how they can be used to bring out the worst in our society” – JBOD CEO Darren Bark

Gareth Narunsky
The Australian Jewish News
February 3, 2022

With a parliamentary committee hearing evidence on banning the display of Nazi symbols today (Thursday), the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD) and Hindu Council of Australia (HCA) have made a joint submission to the inquiry.

The historic submission supports banning the Nazi Hakenkreuz while calling for further education on the Hindu swastika, “a symbol of purity, peace, and love”.

“Symbols of hate used to spread the messages of the Nazi regime were employed far and wide across the world during World War II,” said JBOD CEO Darren Bark, who will appear before the Committee on Social Issues this morning.

“And now we see the re-emergence of these symbols. Legislation like this will ensure we do not forget the lessons of history, and how they can be used to bring out the worst in our society.

“Together, we want to ensure the NSW Government has all the necessary tools to ensure that hate cannot manifest to harmful and dangerous actions in our state.”

Noting that the Nazi symbol “raises fear and hate”, HCA national vice-president Surinder Jain – who will also speak today – said, “Our sacred symbol of the swastika representing peace and prosperity is often confused with evil Hakenkreuz.

“Since the second world war, we are not able to display our symbol in public without raising scorn. We hope that the legislation will ban the hate symbol while freeing our sacred symbol from indoor imprisonment.”

NSW Shadow Minister for Police and Counter Terrorism Walt Secord described the joint submission as “landmark” and “ground-breaking” – saying it was a model on how two community groups could work together in partnership to fight racism and discrimination.

“It was an extraordinary and inspired joint submission,” he said.

Submissions to the parliamentary inquiry almost unanimously supported legislation to ban the display of Nazi and neo-Nazi symbols and flags in NSW, he added.

The Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants (AAJHSD), the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) and the NSW Association of Jewish Service and Ex-Servicemen and Women are among the other organisations who made submissions.

Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Peter Wertheim, AIJAC executive director Colin Rubenstein and senior policy analyst Naomi Levin and Joseph Symon from the AAJHSD are among those who will give evidence today.

If adopted, the Crimes Amendment (Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2021, which was introduced by Secord, would be the first such bill in Australia.

The committee will deliver its report on February 22.