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Australia names a special envoy to confront a rise in antisemitism

THE Australian government named a special envoy today to confront a rise in anti-semitism since Israel invaded Gaza last October.

A similar envoy will soon be appointed to challenge Islamophobia and both also be tasked with promoting social cohesion, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters at the Sydney Jewish Museum.

He appointed Sydney lawyer and business executive Jillian Segal as “special envoy to combat anti-semitism in Australia” for three years. 

She will be expected to consult with community groups and report back to the prime minister and Multicultural Affairs Minister Andrew Giles.

Ms Segal described the statistics on anti-semitism in Australia as “shocking.”

Reports of anti-semitic incidents soared by 700 per cent immediately after Hamas’s surprise attack on southern Israel on October 7 and are still 400-500 per cent higher than before the conflict, she said.

The reports include cases of Jewish-owned businesses being boycotted and vandalised as well as Jewish artists being excluded or subjected to social media shadow bans that restrict their visibility on platforms, Ms Segal added.

“Unfortunately there is no single answer to the perennial problem of anti-semitism,” she said. “But the creation of this role shows a determination by the government to confront this evil and to ensure that it does not erode the goodness that exists in our society.”

Mr Albanese also condemned last month’s vandalism with spray paint at the Australian National Korean War Memorial and the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial in the capital Canberra.

“What we need to do is to make sure that the conflict that is occurring in the Middle East that has caused a great deal of grief for the Jewish community, for members of the Islamic and Palestinian communities — Australians overwhelmingly do not want [that] conflict brought here,” he said.

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