Australia appoints first antisemitism envoy

SYDNEY — Australia has Tuesday appointed its first antisemitism envoy in response to an increase in attacks against its Jewish community.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the envoy would promote social cohesion and help to curb a rise in violence and abuse against Australia’s Jewish community since the start of the Israel-Gaza conflict last October.

The Prime Minister said that overwhelmingly Australians did not want the conflict in the Middle East to bring violence here.

Jillian Segal, a lawyer and business executive who has been a senior member of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, will serve as antisemitism envoy for three years.

Albanese told reporters in Sydney Tuesday that the country’s successful multiculturalism must be protected.

“What is clear is that we cannot take that for granted. What is clear is we continue to reinforce the need for social harmony and that is what today’s announcement of Jillian (Segal) is all about.”

Segal will advise the government and also promote education and awareness of antisemitism.

She told a media conference in Sydney on Tuesday that intolerance must not be allowed to take root. 


“It triggers the very worst instincts in an individual,” she said. “To blame others for life’s misfortunes and to hate, and it is often based on misinformation and inaccurate rumor and it can spread from individual to individual to contaminate the collective, damaging life for the entire community and leading to violence as we have seen.”

But the Jewish Council of Australia, which has been critical of Israel’s actions in Gaza, told local media in a statement that Segal was an “Israel lobbyist” and her appointment would worsen social division.

Community groups have reported an increase in Islamophobic and antisemitic abuse in Australia since Israel’s war in Gaza began more than nine months ago.

Australian police are continuing to investigate an attack by a masked gang on the Melbourne office of a Jewish-Australian lawmaker last month.

Windows were smashed, and fires were lit.

The slogan “Zionism is fascism” was graffitied in red paint over an image of Josh Burns, a federal government parliamentarian.

Albanese also reconfirmed the government would also appoint a special envoy on Islamophobia.   


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