Aid to Jewish groups for security questioned

Treat everyone equally
Having lived near the heavily fortified Beth Weizmann Jewish Community Centre (“Jewish groups get aid to boost security”, The Age, 23/12) for many years, I always wondered why such an intimidating security display was necessary, casting a pall over an otherwise peaceful neighbourhood. As the article points out, no attacks have been recorded in Australia, so why is tax money being spent? Logically, within a multicultural society, the Jewish community isn’t the only one to bear the brunt of occasional and unfortunate prejudice, but this doesn’t mean there are hefty measures taken outside Greek, Italian or Lebanese institutions.

Are politicians happy to spend money merely to keep this influential community on side or is it an appeal to the ever-reliable issue of community safety? In this country, we are all part of the same broad community and should behave accordingly.
Marish Mackowiak, Ormond (24/12)

The threat is real
Marish Mackowiak (“Treat everyone equally”, Letters, 24/12) floats the notion that keeping the Jewish community “on side” is the reason for subsidising security at vulnerable Jewish establishments.

It is an absolute shame security is required at all and it would be wonderful to be able to dispense with it.
However, unfortunately, the threats of violence against Jewish establishments are ongoing and increasing – and they are well documented. To remove security could well lead to tragedy and without subsidy, security could not exist.

Mr Mackowiak’s comparisons with the Greek, Italian and Lebanese institutions is erroneous. Fortunately, they are not under such constant threat.
George Greenberg, Malvern (26/12)

[This response appeared in The Age.]

A sad necessity
Marish Mackowiak wonders why Melbourne’s Jewish community centre needs security (“Treat everyone equally”, Letters, 24/12). Sadly, history has shown us the threats faced by Jews are vastly more serious than the prejudice confronted by Greek, Italian or Lebanese communities, contrary to what he implies.

As well as the numerous deadly attacks on Jewish facilities overseas, in Australia we have seen the 1982 bombing of the Hakoah Club and Israeli consulate on the same day in Sydney, a series of arson attacks against Sydney synagogues, an attempted firebomb attack on a Canberra Jewish centre full of people, three firebomb attacks on the house of a Sydney rabbi and many instances of anti-Semitic violence, not to mention many threats against Melbourne’s Jewish facilities.

The writer’s suggestion that the “influential” Jewish community is causing the government to waste millions of dollars is particularly pernicious. Does he really think the Jewish community would spend millions of dollars of its own money on security if it wasn’t necessary?
Jamie Hyams, Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, South Melbourne (27/12)

[This latter response also appeared in The Age.]