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Australian Jewish Community Comes Under Attack in Parliament Debate

The Australian Jewish community came under attack by members of the legislature as the Australian House of Representatives this week began debate on proposed anti-racist legislation.

Graeme Campbell, a member of the ruling Labor Party from Western Australia, said members of the Jewish community had forced the government into introducing hate-crime legislation.

During his speech, he also attacked the Zionist Federation of Australia, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the president of the Council of Western Australian Jewry.

Campbell, who has a history of opposition to concerns expressed by the Australian Jewish community, last year broke a long-standing boycott of the Australian League of Rights, a racist organization, when he gave a keynote address at its annual meeting in Melbourne.

Campbell also criticized Australian Jewry for using arson attacks on synagogues as examples of hate crimes, claiming the fires which caused great damage to Sydney synagogues during the 1991 Persian Gulf War had “to do with the Middle East.”

He added that recent fires at synagogues were likely due to internal Jewish community disputes.

Another speaker in the debate, opposition member Wilson Tuckey, said, “It is an indisputable fact that one of those ethnic groups (supporting anti-racism laws) – a religious ethnic group, not a national ethnic group – does everything in its power to keep some purity amongst its own people” by discouraging intermarriage.

When asked to explain which group he meant, he responded, “You should be able to work it out from that, because it is very obvious and we see too much of it.”

The Jewish community, along with most mainstream ethnic and community bodies, has publicly supported government attempts to introduce legislation to address the problem of hate crimes in Australia.

Debate on the proposed legislation began this week in the House Representatives and is expected to come before the Senate some time next year.

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