27 October 2013
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) has called for Australia’s anti-racism strategy to be strengthened following the worst anti-Semitic attack in recent history. A group of eight young men attacked families who were walking home from a synagogue in Sydney late on Friday after Shabbat services.
The group allegedly yelled racial slurs at the families before the confrontation turned into a physical fight. Four men and a woman were injured and taken to hospital for treatment. One man aged in his 60ssuffered a bleed on the brain, others suffered broken bones.
ECAJ Executive Director Peter Wertheim said the authorities needed to be more proactive to ensure racism is kept in check. He called for the national anti-racism strategy to be strengthened and included in the education curriculum.
Police have charged three people over the assault, which happened in the Bondi area of Sydney. Two 17-year-olds were both charged with affray and breach of bail. They are due to appear in Sydney Children’s Court on Sunday. A 23-year-old man was also charged with affray and granted bail. Police are still looking for five others who ran away.
Wertheim said in a statement: “I grew up in Bondi and never experienced a single incident of anti-Semitism, not even verbal. For decades,Bondi has been famous for its relaxed, free-wheeling and culturally diverse way of life. Many Jewish people live there. There are numerousshuls, kosher eateries, a kosher butcher, kosher bakeries, kosher grocery stores and Jewish communal institutions. It is not uncommon to see men walking along the street wearing kippot or Chasidic garb, often strolling with their families. Sometimes they are the objects of verbal abuse, but violence is rare. Last night’s violence was exceptional.”