Australian state signs on to London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism


SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – A state parliament in Australia unanimously passed a motion supporting the London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism.

South Australia’s lawmakers in Adelaide this week backed Labor’s Leesa Vlahos, the parliamentary secretary to the state premier, who moved the motion alongside Liberal lawmaker John Gardner.

“Anti-Semitism did not end at the conclusion of the Second World War,” Vlahos said. “It is as real today as it was 70 years ago, in the dreadful gas chambers of the Holocaust.”

The London Declaration – first signed in the United Kingdom in February 2009 – urges lawmakers to “expose, challenge, and isolate political actors who engage in hate against Jews and target the State of Israel as a Jewish collectivity.”

In April 2013, Julia Gillard, then the Australian prime minister, became the first Australian parliamentarian to sign the declaration. Since then it has garnered the support of the entire federal Liberal Party, led by Tony Abbott, now the prime minister, as well as lawmakers from both sides of the political spectrum on the state and federal level.

“A Star of David was pulled off the neck of an individual in Adelaide very recently, swastikas were painted on the fences at the Hackney synagogue, and hateful and threatening messages have been left on answering machines of people identified as being part of Adelaide’s Jewish community,” Gardner told the chamber, according to The Australian newspaper.

Norman Schueler, president of the Jewish Community Council of South Australia, welcomed the news.

“We must never think that the crimes committed against the Jewish people in other states will not be visited upon our shores,” he said. “We need the collective will of our elected leaders to stand up to anti-Semitism.”

Adelaide’s Jewish community has shrunk in recent years to fewer than 1,000 people. Its only Jewish school, Massada College, closed in 2011.

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