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Jews Meet Australian Leader

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Responding to a report on anti-Semitic violence and vandalism, Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard told a delegation of Jewish leaders in Sydney that “the last thing I want is for any section of the Jewish community to feel under attack, pressure or discrimination.”

The meeting was Prime Minister Howard’s first with the elected leaders of the Australian Jewish community.

The 8-member delegation raised several matters of concern to the community, including anti-Semitism, racism and the demands on the Jewish community to provide security for its communal institutions.

The prime minister told the delegation he understood the connection Jews have with Jerusalem based on his own experiences as a tourist in Israel in 1964 when it was impossible to enter the Old City of Jerusalem from the Israeli side.

He also said Australia is firmly committed to supporting the Oslo-based peace process.

The president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Diane Shteinman, said the prime minister “was open and frank on some of the complexities in the issues we raised.”

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