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December 27, 2014 / 5 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Sydney’

The Diapora’s Dilemma in Sydney

Friday, December 19th, 2014

The cancellation of the tradition public lighting of the Chabad menorah in Sydney this week epitomizes the excruciating neurosis of Jews in the Diaspora, torn between living freely as Jews and having to co-exist with the somewhat tolerant if not ignorant ruling powers.

I do not pre-judge the cancellation of the public lighting on the public area very near the scene of this week’s siege of the Lindt’s Café, in which another Islamic loony held hostages for 16 hours before police stormed the store. Two of the hostages were killed.

It would be too easy and wrong to write smugly from Israel that the Jewish community caved into pressure to cancel the public lighting. It may even have been the Jewish leaders’ own initiative to do so “out of respect” to the families of the victims.

If the victims had been Jewish, God forbid, they might have made the same decision that is politically correct but fundamentally wrong. Beneath the surface lies the eternal contradiction of Judaism and Jews in the Diaspora.

The need to be socially and culturally acceptable among the non-Jewish hosts in a foreign country – foreign meaning outside the Jewish home of Israel – clashes with the individual need to live Judaism fully.

The non-Jews cannot be expected to understand Judaism’s inner meaning and spirituality, but it is a tragedy that Jews’ understanding is tainted by their living in the Diaspora.

Hanukkah is universally recognized by lighting the Menorah, the Dreidel, the sickening sufganiyot –those unhealthy fried donuts once filled with jelly and now stuffed with everything from peanut butter to bubble gum – and the Xmas-inspired gift-giving.

Of all of these symbols, the Menorah is the only one that touches on the real meaning of Hanukkah, two victory of truth over evil in the war against the Greek conquerors of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple and the miracle of pure olive oil that was found in the debris of the Temple and which burned for eight days even though it was thought to be enough to burn for only one day.

For the non-Jew, and unfortunately as well as for many Jews, lighting the menorah has about as much meaning as lighting a Xmas tree, which has nothing to do with the origins of the holiday.

Light is beautiful. It is uplifting. It is fun. Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights.

The light of Hanukkah represents the belief in God, the belief in good over evil, and it symbolizes the victory of the Jews over those who want to destroy the light, such as the mad Muslim of Lindt’s.

The Xmas tree’s decorations are nice and pretty but have no meaning other than one’s individual thoughts of God, the beauty of light and nature, and the cost of electricity. They have nothing to do with the meaning of the holiday (AFAIK).

For the families of the siege of Lindt’s Café, the public lighting of the Menorah nearby the scene of the crime indeed would seem disrespectful because they do not understand nor cannot be expected to understand the deep meaning of Hanukkah.

For the Jew who understands the meaning behind the Menorah, lighting it in public would seem exactly the message needed to show that terror and murder cannot and must not conquer.

But Jews in the Diaspora must behave as they are expected to behave.

If God forbid the siege had taken place in downtown Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, I dare say that more Menorahs would be lit than ever before. The expression of the belief in God and not in the fear of terrorist and murders would be omnipresent in public.

Sydney Chabad Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Canceled ‘Out of Respect’

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

The public Hanukkah candle lighting at Sydney’s Martin Place was canceled for the first time in 30 years following the terror attack that killed two Australians.

Chabad, which has erected a giant 33-foot Hanukkah menorah in downtown Sydney for the past three decades, issued a statement Thursday, saying: “Due to the very recent terror attack in Martin Place and with sensitivity towards the families of the victims of terror, the Hanukkah commemoration scheduled for this evening has regrettably been canceled.”

“The Jewish community of Australia expresses our deepest sympathy for the families of the Martin Place tragedy. May the lights of the festival of Hanukkah bring comfort and warmth to our nation,” the statement concluded.

The giant menorah was scheduled to be erected Monday night, but the 16-hour siege inside Lindt chocolate café, just yards away from where the menorah is normally erected, was still underway.

Two hostages, café manager Tori Johnson, 34, and barrister Katrina Dawson, 38, were killed around 2 a.m. Tuesday when special agents stormed the café and killed the lone gunman, Man Haron Monis, a self-styled Iranian cleric who had forced hostages to hold up a flag bearing the Shahada – the testament of the Islamic creed – in the window.

Instead of the public candle lighting, Johnson’s father Ken was greeted Thursday afternoon at the memorial site – a sea of tens of thousands of bouquets of flowers – by multi-faith leaders, including Levi Wolff and Zalman Kastel, both Chabad rabbis.

“We have people from all faiths coming together to show that we are a very strong united people and a strong country,” Rabbi Wolff said. “A small, little bit of light distills a tremendous amount of darkness.”

Rabbi Elimelech Levy, from Chabad Youth of New South Wales, told Haaretz earlier this week, “We haven’t cancelled it [and] we are waiting to hear back from authorities. We’d like it to go ahead, and to pay tribute to the victims of terror.”

And what about Christmas?

Sydney is toning down the public festivities for the holiday but not banning the lighting of trees. The usual colorful decorations and pictures of Santa will not be displayed, the London Telegraph reported, but two Christmas trees will be put up at the central train station.

Rabbi Levy said concerning the ban on the public lighting of the Hanukkah menorah, “If we cancel the event we are giving terrorist exactly what they want. We want to do it compassionately for the victims.”

The Chabad.org website wrote that after the siege of the Lindt coffee shop, the local Chabad rabbi placed a plaque affixed to the menorah that stated, “The Jewish Community of Australia expresses our deepest sympathy for the families of the Martin Place tragedy. May the light of the festival of Hanukkah bring comfort and warmth to our nation.”

A little bit of darkness dims the light.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Sydney authorities ordered that the menorah not be lit.

BREAKING: ISIS Hostage Situation in Australia

Monday, December 15th, 2014

UPDATE #1: There are some unconfirmed reports that instead of 13 hostages, there may be as many as 50 hostages inside either the cafe itself or the building. There are other reports that Islamists have threatened that there are four locations with explosives in different areas of Sydney.

According to Australian media, ISIS has taken thirteen people hostage in a chocolates café in the business district of Sydney, Australia known as Martin Place. The situation began shortly after 10:00 a.m. local time. A television station directly across the street from the café has been monitoring what is happening thus far.

Some of the hostages inside the Lindt’s Chocolate Cafe are reportedly being forced to hold up ISIS flags against the windows of the building, others are being forced to press their hands up against the windows.

Police have cleared the area, all public transportation in the area has been stopped, including all flights over Sydney.

According to News 7 in Sydney, Australian Parliament member Bernie Finn posted on his Facebook page: “Islamic terrorists have taken hostages in a Martin Place cafe in Sydney. This could be the day we’ve been fearing.

Finn may have been referring to a threat issued over the summer by an Australian citizen, Mohamed Elomar, who joined ISIS. He pledged to bring terrorism to his country, and warned that Australia should be worried.

This story shall be updated.

The Tony Abbot, the Australian Prime Minister, issued the following statement:

AustralianPrimeMinisterPressRelease.jpg

ISIS Plotted Australian Public Beheading

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

A massive security sting operation hauled in 15 suspects and foiled a plot by the Islamist State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to hold a public beheading in Australia.

More than 800 police officers were involved in the raids that revolved around 22-year-old Omarjan Azari, who was charged on Thursday with preparing to commit a terrorist act.

An intercepted phone call triggered the operation, prosecutors said.

A senior member of ISIS was urging Azari and his group to carry out the demonstration executions, according to Prime Minister Tony Abbott. “That’s the intelligence we received,” he told reporters.

“The exhortations, quite direct exhortations, were coming from an Australian, who is apparently quite senior in ISIL (Islamic State in the Levant, an alternate name for ISIS), to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country. So this is not just suspicion, this is intent and that’s why the police and security agencies decided to act in the way they have.”

Azari appeared in Sydney central court, where prosecutors told the judge the suspect planned to “shock, horrify and potentially terrify” the public with such executions.

Bail was denied because he was considered a flight risk, partly due to his “unusual level of fanaticism,” the court said.

Australian federal police Acting Commissioner Andrew Colvin said a warning had been received the plot involved abducting a passerby from the street in New South Wales and beheading them while filming the murder.

The other 14 suspects can be held for up to 14 days without being charged, under Australia’s counter terrorism laws, according to a report in The Guardian newspaper.

‘Free Palestine!’ Gang Attacks Jewish School Children on Bus in Sydney

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

As new reports of anti-Semitism continue to flood the media, an especially troubling attack in Sydney, Australia has made headlines around the world.

A group of Jewish children and their parents were traumatized Wednesday by an attack by a gang of eight anti-Semitic teens who boarded a government school bus.

Dozens of the children were trapped in the school bus when the gang started hurling anti-Semitic threats and other verbal abuse at the children on Wednesday.

As the bus traveled towards the Sydney suburb of Bondi, drunken gang members yelled, “Kill the Jews,” and “Free Palestine,” “Palestine, Palestine, You’ve taken over our country, what do you want with our country,” and “Heil Hitler.”

The children, ages five to 12, were all from Jewish schools in Sydney’s eastern suburbs – Mount Sinai College, Emanuel School and Moriah College. They were not physically harmed but all were badly traumatized.

The bus is not open to members of the public, officials said. Parents picked up their children from Rose Bay and gave statements to police. But the bus driver cursed at a parent who questioned why he allowed the gang members to board in the first place.

Jackie Blackburn, the parent who questioned the driver, spoke with several members of the media. She told the Daily Mail Australia, “He was very rude to me, he swore at me and he wouldn’t give me any information. I said: ‘Mate, the police are onto you, they are all over the roads.’ He told me to f— off.’ “ The same gang had apparently targeted an earlier bus traveling from the same three Jewish schools, Blackburn said, and had kicked at the door, but were not allowed to board.

Blackburn told Channel 9, that her eldest daughter, age 12, was distraught and said the gang members were threatening to slit the children’s throats. The group knocked the phone out of her daughter’s hand, she said, but a friend found it and called her.

She raced to the scene, she said, and was “actually chasing the bus, I was just saying to the kids, ‘Where are you? Where are you?’”

The offenders got off the bus on Bronte Road at Bondi Junction, police said; they were identified after officers reviewed the CCTV footage on the bus.

Victor Dominello, Minister for Citizenship and Communities, made it clear government officials would pursue the case. “The people of NSW will never excuse it,” he said. “We are lucky to live in one of the most harmonious multicultural societies in the world but we must never be complacent. It is incumbent upon all citizens to expose those whose actions are based on racial hatred and who seek to import overseas conflict onto our streets.”

Five of the teens, ages 15 to 17, were arrested by New South Wales state police early Thursday and questioned in connection with the attack. A sixth is still being sought, police said.

The five were later released into their parents’ custody without being charged, pending further investigation, according to Associated Press.

The youths were “too drunk to be interviewed at the time,” according to police superintendent Jason Box, the Eastern Suburbs local area commander, who spoke with The Sydney Morning Herald.

“I’ve been informed that some of the six juveniles had bus passes and were in partial school uniform and I can only assume that the bus driver believed that they were school children due to their age and what they were wearing and that bus passes were produced,” Box told local media.

The New Old Antisemitism

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Even a foxhole Yid has to admit that antisemitism is on the upswing. Beatings. Swastikas. Boycotts. Brooklyn. Kiev. Sydney. Even from my comfortable perch here in “Jew” York City I have come to realize that there exists a huge gray area between Never again and Watch your back.

Not that antisemitism ever went away. In every generation we face enemies who hate us viscerally and wish for our demise, whether by their own hand or some other means. Many others are raised with tolerance and respect, yet drink the milk of a culture that paints Israel as the devil and Jews who support her as guilty by association. They may like us as individuals but still harbor suspicions about us as a group.

There was a quieting of sorts after the Holocaust. The West’s collective guilt at failing to prevent Hitler’s genocidal campaign lent us a certain sympathy, an inclination to accommodate our recovery as a people, to allow us to come back stronger even, with our biblical homeland restored. Discrimination still flourished, but violence was the province of goons like the Klan.

Today, we have anti-discrimination laws to protect us but, ironically, overtly anti-Semitic physical attacks have reemerged as a threat to Jews even in bastions of cosmopolitanism. In much of Europe today, wearing a kippah is an act of courage – or recklessness, depending whom you ask. Jewish schools are fortified like vaults, with security guards and cameras. Attempts to ban shechitah and bris milah have gained tremendous momentum and achieved some level of success.

Echoes of the Chanukah and Purim stories are converging now in a way not seen perhaps since the Spanish Inquisition: The threat encompasses neshamah and guf our freedom to practice our way of life, and our very lives. What’s going on? And more important, how should we respond?

It’s no secret that the resurgence of open antisemitism has a lot do with the influx of Muslims to Europe, and the misguided efforts of governments at every level there to accommodate – or, rather, appease – a culture that seeks hegemony, not acculturation. Even places that have not experienced this demographic shift have been affected by the rising tide of radical Islam globally and its alarming corollary, the creeping influence of the soft propaganda churned out by the media as well as political and academic talking heads.

On Purim, there’s a tradition to drink until one cannot tell the difference between “arur (cursed be) Haman” and “baruch (blessed be) Mordechai.” I fear that much of our world today has so imbibed the lies and demagoguery of Israel’s enemies that truth and falsehood have become fungible.

But anti-Israelism, if you will, cannot alone explain the rash of anti-Jewish violence. Did the perpetrator of a “knockout” attack in Crown Heights really think twice about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? What about the Winnipeg girl who shouted “let’s burn the Jew” as she lit a high school classmate’s hair on fire (an injury compounded by the judge on the case who deemed it not a hate crime)?

One probable factor is that thing at the heart of so many human woes: money. The economic downturn, a crisis in some parts, has led to civil unrest in Europe and even here in the U.S. (Remember the Occupy-ers?) Tough times breed discontent, and discontent breeds scapegoating. And we know that Jews are the favorite scapegoat for the world’s problems. The caricature of the Jew as master financier and puppeteer of the universe still lives.

This new reality – the realization that we’re not as safe as we may have thought – brings one lesson from our history into sharp relief. In Megillas Esther, when Haman presents to Achashveirosh his terrible plot against the Jews, he says, “There is a people in your kingdom who are scattered and separated among the nations.” Yes, the Jewish community’s evolution toward de-centralization made them an easier target for Haman. But more profoundly, says the Ozarover Rebbe, Rabbi Yechiel HaLevi Epstein, their lack of unity as a people made them vulnerable to attack. What was the antidote for that? “Gather all the Jews together,” Esther told Mordechai – then I can go before the king and beg for mercy; then we will have a fighting chance against Haman’s armies.

The Jewish community today is bitterly splintered. Let’s put aside for now the alarming rate of intermarriage and the more than one-fifth of Jews who classify themselves as having “no religion.” Let’s even put aside the divisions between the Orthodox and affiliated non-Orthodox Jews. Within the frum community there is so much infighting.

It’s normal and healthy and in keeping with thousands of years of Jewish history for us to be diversified, heterogeneous – anything but monolithic. But the vitriol from the mouths of those considered leaders, and in turn from their followers, the use of Nazi imagery, the lack of civility – let alone respect – toward Jews who keep Shabbos and kashrus but differ in hashkafa or practice or politics is not only disgraceful but dangerous. A public demonstration, in galus, by Jews against Jews is one of the most tragic scenes of our times. We need Hashem’s protection, but we have to show Him that Am Yisrael Chai – the Jewish people, united in destiny and faith, live.

Small acts of reaching out, reserving judgment, and saving the hateful rhetoric for our real enemies are a good place to start.

Fourth Man Charged in Sydney Antisemitic Attack

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

A fourth man was charged in an alleged anti-Semitic attack on five religious Jews in Sydney.

The 26-year-old appeared in court on Tuesday and was denied bail after being arrested the previous day. Among the charges are possessing a knife in a public place and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

He and three others are accused verbally abusing and physically beating four members of the Behar family and Shlomo Ben-Haiem, the educational emissary for the Jewish National Fund, on Oct. 25.

The five, all religious Jews, were walking home after midnight on Oct. 25 when they allegedly were accosted. They were hospitalized, with Eli Behar suffering a brain injury. He was released after two nights in hospital.

Jewish leaders described the alleged assault as the worst anti-Semitic attack of its kind since records began being kept in the late 1980s.

The others charged were two 17-year-olds, who will face juvenile court on Wednesday, and a 23-year-old man who is due to appear in court on Dec. 3.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/fourth-man-charged-in-sydney-antisemitic-attack/2013/11/13/

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