The NSW Jewish community, together with MPs and interfaith leaders united for peace and solidarity with Israel today in Sydney.
The gathering led by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD) was attended by representatives from the Aboriginal, Assyrian, Catholic, Chaldean, Christian, Ethiopian, Greek, Indian – both Hindu & Sikh, Korean and Kurdish communities, alongside bipartisan state and federal members of Parliament. The event was co-hosted by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, State Zionist Council of NSW and the Zionist Federation of Australia.
JBOD CEO Darren Bark said there was an overwhelming response from the Jewish community to come together with the broader NSW community to show our solidary with Israel and spread the message of peace.
“NSW is a diverse and inclusive multicultural state and today we share the Jewish community’s message of peace for all – Israelis, Palestinians; both overseas and locally,” Mr Bark said.
“We watched with horror as thousands of Hamas rockets terrorised innocent civilians and we mourn all loss of life – Israeli and Palestinian. Israel has a right to defend itself from such threats that not only endanger the lives of Israelis, but of Palestinians as well.
“We welcome the announcement of a ceasefire, and hope it brings ongoing peace to the region.”
Hamas is an internationally recognised terrorist organisation.
Today’s gathering comes at a distressing time for the local Jewish community, who have seen a dramatic spike in antisemitism and hate speech, that has included the burning of flags, public displays of Nazi swastikas and vile, intimidating and hurtful comments online invoking Hitler and praising the Holocaust.
“It is important international conflicts do not spill over to the local community. We value peace, inclusion and cohesion,” Mr Bark said.
“Recent activity has heightened the concerns among the Jewish community that there are some who seek to undermine our peaceful and generally harmonious society.
“There is no place in our society for intolerance, discrimination or antisemitism – we must all defend our peaceful and inclusive society so that it can continue to be enjoyed by all.
“It is time to shed light on the terror, hate speech and violence being propagated. It is time for truth, for dialogue, and for community.
“We stand with Israelis. We stand with Palestinians. We stand with democracies against Hamas as a terrorist organisation and we mourn the tragic loss of life,” Mr Bark concluded.
*Due to an overwhelming response from the Jewish community, today’s gathering was live streamed to ensure that it could be held responsibly, respectfully and safely.