This Rosh Hashanah, we speak up against racism

Rosh Hashanah 5777 begins on Sunday night. This festival provides us with an opportunity for reflection on the year that has been. With the increased prominence of divisive politicians such as Donald Trump and Pauline Hanson, we are witnessing a disturbing rise in racism, bigotry and hate speech.

Our unique experience as Jews means we know how dangerous this political discourse can be, and where it can lead if left unchecked.

For decades in Israel, NIF has worked to bring Jewish and Arab Israelis together, on the soccer fields, in schools, and in everyday life, because we know that when people don't play, learn and live together, hatred and fear of anyone different bubble to the surface.

Today, we're proud to stand together with twelve other Jewish Australian organisations, from across the religious, political and cultural spectrum, to speak out against extremist voices in our own country. Our objective is to encourage a more cohesive, inclusive and tolerant Australia.

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Communal Rosh Hashanah Statement Against Racism

As Jewish organisations committed to social justice, egalitarianism and the values of liberal democracy, we are committed to an Australian community that is inclusive, tolerant and diverse.

The Jewish people are only too aware of the damage that can occur when religious or ethnic groups are targeted by hate speech. We understand that an Australia built on acceptance can empower and uplift the potential of diverse communities. Indeed, it is these values that has enabled the Jewish community to become a thriving and contributing part of the wider Australian community.

Therefore, the rise in Islamophobia and racism are of particular concern. Extremist voices that exploit dog whistle politics to target minority groups, such as Muslim Australians and refugees and people seeking asylum have no place in a multicultural and pluralist society like Australia.

However, discrimination against minority groups does not just damage our collective morality; it harms progress towards peace and security by creating a society that alienates and divides parts of our community, driving disaffected young people towards radicalisation.

We believe that bigoted views represent the worst in our society and weaken the fabric of our vibrant multicultural society. We therefore stand proudly, arm in arm, with our Muslim friends, and all victims of racism, in recognising that there is more that unites us than divides us.

As Rosh Hashana approaches, a time when our community gathers in all its diversity to reflect on our deeds over the past year and affirm our collective desire to be a more caring and charitable community, we hope and pray for a more tolerant and compassionate Australia that celebrates the dignity of difference.

In the coming year, may the voices of ignorance, stereotyping and racism be drowned out by those of love, compassion and pluralism.

Signatories:

  • Ameinu Australia
  • Australian Jewish Democratic Society
  • Council of Progressive Rabbis
  • Rabbi Gersh Lazarow and Temple Beth Israel
  • Habonim Dror Australia
  • Hashomer Hatzair Australia
  • Hineni Youth and Welfare Australia
  • Jewish Labour Bund
  • Netzer Australia
  • New Israel Fund Australia
  • Progressive Judaism Victoria
  • Shira Hadasha Melbourne
  • SKIF
  • Rabbi Shneur Waks - The ArK Centre
  • Stand Up: Jewish Commitment To A Better World
  • Union of Progressive Judaism