The number of anti-Semitic incidents reported in Australia in the past year is the second-highest level recorded. The Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s (ECAJ) annual report on anti-Semitism lists 657 reports of racist violence directed at individuals or Jewish facilities in the year to the end of September, a 21 per cent increase on last year. The number of serious physical assaults was at its lowest since 2005, although the report did not cover the recent brutal attack on five members of a Jewish family in Sydney. While the incidents included vandalism or attacks on facilities such as synagogues, most of the reports concerned threats and abuse rather than violence directed at people or property.

Anti-Semitic email reached its second-highest level on record, while the total number of threats from email, phone calls, posters, leaflets and mail was 60 per cent above last year’s survey. “Anti-Semitism remains at the fringes of Australian politics and society, and though there are exceptions, anti-Semitism is not generally part of the mainstream discourse,” the report says. However, it warns of threats still faced by the Jewish community, saying “the fact remains that Jews in Australia worship, study and work under the protection of high fences, armed guards, and other security facilities. Condemning and countering anti-Semitism also need to be more actively pursued by the non-Jewish community.”

The report also warns that reporting of incidents such as the “Prisoner X” case, the Melbourne-born Mossad agent Ben Zygier who committed suicide in an Israeli prison in 2010, can trigger “public expressions of anti-Semitic stereotypes and canards. A tragedy involving a single individual was used in some media to impugn the loyalty to Australia of Australian Jews as a group. “Anti-Semitic stereotypes and false claims against Jews expressed in the mainstream media or by community leaders can portray anti-Semitism as legitimate and serves to encourage extremists to incite and act against individual Jews or Jewish communal facilities like synagogues or Jewish schools,” it goes on to say.

ECAJ research officer Julie Nathan said anti-Semitism was not just a Jewish problem, but one affecting the whole of a society. “The main measures to counter anti-Semitism include: political and civil society leaders publicly condemning anti-Semitism; public and school education on the evils and folly of racism, providing contemporary and historical examples,” she said. Ms Nathan also spoke of the need for legal recourse to tackle vilification and hate, citing sections of the Racial Discrimination Act the government has pledged to repeal.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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Israeli Jews were again denied freedom of religion at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, of all places, when a near-riot by Muslim worshipers resulted in police closing the holy site to all but the followers of Allah.  A Muslim mob became enraged when a small group of visiting Jews began singing songs commemorating the holiday of Hanukkah, an extra-Biblical festival very much centred on the Temple Mount.  In a video the irate Muslims can be seen violently confronting the Jewish group’s police escort, even as at least one man sings holiday songs in Hebrew. A subsequent scuffle led to the arrest of two Jews and two Muslims.

Israeli lawmakers had demanded that police make the Temple Mount more accessible to Jews over the Hanukkah holiday. “Just because some Muslims throw stones when Jews go up to the Temple Mount is not a reason to prevent them from going, as happened over Succot,” Knesset Members Miri Regev (Likud), chairwoman of the Knesset Interior Committee, told police officials during a committee session. Regev noted that “special arrangements are made for Muslim prayer on the Temple Mount during Ramadan and similar arrangements must be made for Jewish visits on Jewish holidays.”

Jews and Christians are only permitted to visit the Temple Mount under severe restrictions. Despite it being the holiest site on earth to Jews and many Christians, they are forbidden from carrying Bibles or praying while inside the compound for fear of “inciting” Muslim violence.

Source: Israel Today

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Hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews held a mass prayer in Jerusalem recently in protest at a bill that would cut their community’s military exemptions and end a tradition upheld since Israel’s foundation. Ultra-Orthodox leaders called on their men, women and children to attend the protest against new legislation ending the wholesale army exemptions granted to seminary students, which is expected to pass in  coming weeks. The issue is at the heart of an emotional national debate. Most Israeli Jewish men and women are called up for military service when they turn 18, but most ultra-Orthodox Jews, or “Haredim”, meaning ‘those who tremble before God’, are excused from army service.

Police said hundreds of thousands took part in the prayer. Israeli media estimated that between 250,000 to 400,000 attended. The ultra-Orthodox demonstration paralysed parts of Jerusalem, blocked the main entrance to the city and halted public transport as the streets swelled with streams of men in black hats and coats, the traditional Haredi garb. Rabbis wailed prayers over loudspeakers as the standing crowds swayed back and forth, repeating a plea to God to stop the law from being passed. “We want to show that we are united and we want to stop a bad thing that they are trying to force us into. The army is not our way of life. It is not run by our rabbis,” said 18-year-old Mordechai Seltzer.

Source: Faith World

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A group of Norwegian Christians visited Israel recently asking for forgiveness for “Norway’s antagonism toward Jews.” Said Pastor Terje Ligerod, head of the Norwegian delegation: “We believe we are called as a nation to be an ally and to support Israel, and we, as leaders, want to work for change in our country, and for a repentance among the Christians in our country. We want to support Israel.” Ligerod delivered a declaration to Israeli representatives, listing the things they were repenting for. In part, it reads: “Forgive us, Israel, as a nation, for the Oslo agreement dividing up Eretz Yisrael; for not moving our embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s eternal undivided capital city of Jerusalem.”

The declaration also states that Norway has not defended Israel in a media and political world hostile to the Jewish nation. Josh Reinstein, Director of the Knesset Allies Caucus, was quoted as saying that while Norway has in the past been an antagonistic nation, the delegation’s visit “comes on the heels of a new election in Norway where a Christian political party has been elected to Parliament,” and predicted it may herald the beginning of new relations with the country. Faith based diplomacy, he added, “is the most influential weapon we have in the diplomatic cache today.”

Source: Intercessors Network

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently met with Pope Francis in Rome in a closed-door meeting which lasted for nearly half-an-hour.  The prime minister gave Francis a copy of his father Benzion’s book, “The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain.”  During his visit Netanyahu attended a candle-lighting ceremony in Rome’s main Jewish synagogue and spoke again of his opposition to an international nuclear deal with Iran. He said. “Iran aspires to attain an atomic bomb. It would thus threaten not only Israel, but also Italy, Europe, and the entire world. The most dangerous regime in the world must not be allowed to have the most dangerous weapon in the world.”

Source: Newsmax

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Israel’s Energy Minister Silvan Shalom has announced that Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority (PA) will sign an “historic” agreement at the World Bank in Washington to link the Red Sea with the Dead Sea. Shalom called the agreement a “breakthrough after many years of efforts. It is nothing less than a historic move.” With the Dead Sea set to dry out by 2050, Jordan, last year, initially announced a $980 million dollar project to transfer water. The idea to join the two seas dates back to a peace treaty signed in 1994 between Israel and Jordan.

Source: Yediot Aharonot

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