More than 1,000 people crammed into a cemetery in South Australia to express solidarity with the Jewish community of Adelaide, where more than 60 graves and headstones were vandalized in the Jewish section of a cemetery earlier this month.
Among those conveying their concern was Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who sent a letter expressing his “utter digust” at the anti-Semitic attack that occurred there.
Yehuda Avner, the Israeli ambassador to Australia, read aloud the letter sent by Rabin.
“Given our history, our common heritage, our mutual faith, the desecration of the Adelaide Jewish Cemetery could not but touch a nerve in the emotions of us all,” the letter said. “It revives painful associations.”
A message from Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating also was read at the event, called the “Service of Solidarity.”
Keating said in the message that this “mindless behavior” has “no place in a tolerant society.”
The government of the state of South Australia said it would provide funds for the “full restoration of the tombstones that have been damaged,” matching an earlier commitment by the federal government.
Isi Leibler, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, also addressed the crowd, saying that what took place “is tantamount to one of the worst examples of desecration to have happened in any Western country.”
The Jewish community in South Australia as well as Jewish organizations in Sydney and Melbourne said they received letters of support from diverse groups, including the Islamic community, the Chinese community, mainstream churches and other Jewish communities.