SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – A senior Jewish leader accused Australian officials of being complicit in allowing Nazi war criminals to seek sanctuary here.
Jeremy Jones, a former president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said Aug. 19 at the launch of a new book about Nazi war criminals: “Australian governments, through commission and omission, had been complicit in allowing torturers, murderers and architects of the most gross inhumanity to come and live in peace and without fear of consequences in Australia.”
His attack comes just days after Australia’s highest court ruled that Karoly (Charles) Zentai, believed to be the last suspected Nazi war criminal in Australia, could not be surrendered to Hungary to face accusations of a war crime committed there in 1944.
Jones, who is also director of international and community affairs for the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, scolded the judges, saying their decision “almost screams from the rooftops that Australia lacks the will to redress a great historic wrong.”
He said there has “been a fickle, cynical abrogation of morality” by successive Australian governments. “There had been a gross distortion of decency, allowing fugitives to take places of refugees,” Jones said, adding the result was “a moral stain on our country.”
Launching “The Road to the Menzies Inquiry: Suspected War Criminals in Australia” by the late Leslie Caplan, also a former president of the ECAJ, Jones said: “There were hundreds of people who came here and slept peacefully at night, without any concern that they would ever be brought to account for their crimes.”