ECAJ President Jillian Segal AO’s address at NSW’s Rally for Peace and Solidarity with Israel
ECAJ President Jillian Segal AO addressed the crowd at NSW’s Rally for Peace and Solidarity with Israel on Sunday.
Watch Jillian’s address below or on YouTube here.
Below is a transcript of her speech.
Friends, I wish to echo the sentiments of Lesli and I am sure Rodney in expressing solidarity with the people of Israel. The Australian Jewish community and its representative bodies stand with Israel and will always stand with Israel. We are a Zionist community, we believe in the right of the Jewish people to determine our own future in our own State in our historic homeland, and we feel a collective sentiment as well as duty to support our fellow Jews in their times of peril: “Kol Yisrael arevim zeh bazeh” – we are responsible for each other and Israel.
We mourn the loss of innocent life on both sides and we abhor any attempts to either minimise the crimes and culpability of Hamas or to draw false equivalences between the acts of a terrorist organisation and the measured response of a sovereign and democratic state.
Jewish people around the world are experiencing their own trauma – in the UK, France and across Europe, in LA and New York. We have felt outraged here by so much ignorant, misleading and plainly false reporting and commentary by a wide range of outlets and organisations. We have felt overwhelmed by the relentless abuse and hatred directed at us on social media and, on occasions, on the streets. We have witnessed the flags of terrorist organisations displayed in public, and vicious attacks on Jews in cities in other parts of the world.
We have seen journalists and civil society organisations shed any pretence of fairness and impartiality and essentially become mouthpieces for an organisation that Australia designates as terrorist. We have been drowning in disinformation and falsehoods spread by certain celebrities and other influencers.
And we have felt shocked and betrayed by a public discourse that seems to remove Israelis from the human family – which portrays Israel as an abstract entity and not a nation of real, flesh and blood people, including so many of our own family members and friends.
This has left many of us feeling despondent and bewildered. But today I remind you that we are not alone. We have each other, we have Am Yisrael – the people of Israel – both in the Land and everywhere around the world. We have people of principle like those friends here with us today who are standing up for truth.
You will have seen, displayed on the screens, the very long list of local and international figures who have voiced their support for Israel, including our Prime Minister. We are grateful to them, and take heart from their courage in standing up to be counted. There have been spontaneous personal expressions of support from countless other Australians who see the truth for what it is and are appalled by Hamas’s genocidal Charter and its indiscriminate rocket attacks. However, it must also be said that we have felt let down by the deafening silence from other public figures from whom we expected better.
We are a proud and determined people. We are used to being self-reliant and we are resilient. Israel will emerge strong from this latest conflict ( and we pray that the ceasefire will hold and) and Israelis and Jewish people everywhere will also remain strong and return to all the work we do building social cohesion with our neighbours.
This war has shown us how great the challenges are. But I want to assure each of you that the leadership of this community is working tirelessly with great passion and dedication to ensure that our voice is and will be heard – in the media, online, in government and in every sector of society. The current violence may end but our hard work will continue and we will ensure that as a community we remain organised and committed particularly to continuing to provide our youth with the knowledge, training and tools to speak up.
On behalf of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the nearly 200 communal organisations around the country that fall within our structure, I proudly re-affirm that we stand with the people of Israel and with diaspora Jewry everywhere, and we stand together with a renewed determination to drive anti-Zionism and antisemitism back into the darkest and most disreputable corners of our society from where they emerged.