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Press Release – 22 January 2009

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Melbourne’s Jewish community shows unwavering solidarity with Israel

Melbourne’s Jewish community came together in 2 demonstrations of support for Israel and the residents of southern Israel on Tuesday evening, January 20, proudly supported by the Zionist Council of Victoria.

A capacity crowd of more than 500 at Glen Eira Town Hall heard impassioned addresses from Israel’s Ambassador to Australia Yuval Rotem, Michael Danby MP and Dr Danny Lamm, President of the Zionist Council of Victoria.

Ambassador Rotem asked community members to simply make advocating for Israel part of their day because, “We have a just cause to defend…” and “…because people deserve to know the truth.  “So every day, make it five minutes for Israel. Write a letter, send an e-mail, make telephone call to your politicians or the media or to your neighbour.”

“Tonight I call upon you, to remember to speak up, because we have not just the right to live, but also the right to defend ourselves. Remember to speak up because Israel needs your help. By speaking up, you provide us with a measure of hope, and a measure of encouragement, knowing that we not alone in this struggle” he said.

In his speech, dedicated to fallen Australian Jewish soldier Greg Sher z’l, Michael Danby MP addressed former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and his impossible assertion in The Age newspaper (16/01) that peace will only come to the Middle East when Israel negotiates with Hamas.

The program also included live audio link ups with those on the frontline in southern Israel. Noam Bedein, Director of the Sderot Media Centre described the fear of living in a “rocket reality” for the past 8 years. Referring to Iran’s sponsorship of Hamas with weapons, training and funding, he said “Iran is at our backdoor…and that is a completely unacceptable reality.”

The Sderot Media Centre is an organization of citizen journalism that also serves as a news agency, a voice to the international media from the rocket-ridden town of Sderot and the surrounding western Negev region. These are the same Israeli civilians have been Hamas’ human targets for more than 10,000 missile, rocket and mortar attacks since 2001.
Russian journalist Andrei Kozhenov, a correspondent for Israel Plus television spoke about his experiences reporting from the Gaza border during Israel’s Operation Lead Cast as up to 180 Hamas missiles per day were lobbed overhead in the airspace from Gaza to Sderot and as far as 40 kilometres north of Gaza. 

One million Israeli civilians in major cities, ports and towns remain in Hamas’ deliberate line of fire, even after the Israel Defense Force’s 3 week campaign to diminish Hamas’ ability to wage terror on Israeli civilians, the IDF’s decision to hold fire earlier this week and their complete withdrawal from Gaza yesterday.

The solidarity meeting was organised by the Jewish community’s Russian and Hebrew-speaking organisations – the Am Echad Federation, the Shalom Association, Hamerkaz Ha’Israeli and the Zionist Council of Victoria.

Ambassador Rotem and ZCV President Dr Danny Lamm earlier addressed community members at a solidarity and prayer evening organised by the Council of Orthodox Synagogues of Victoria (COSV), the Rabbinical Council of Victoria and the St Kilda Hebrew Congregation.

Following the events Dr Lamm spoke of how local support for Israel in its confrontation with terrorist Hamas reached far across the world. “There is a great sense of pride in the unity of our local communal organisations and the community as a whole in its steadfast support of Israel which mirrors that of the vast majority of the population in Israel. Our support for Israel connects us with moderate and peace-loving people in the US, Australia, the UK, France, Germany and Italy, who all recognise that this time, Israel had to act and that Israel is at the vanguard of the fight against radical Islamic terror”, he said.

For more information contact:
Elly Shalev, Public Affairs Director, Zionist Council of Victoria – 9272 5519
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The Zionist Council of Victoria leads and encourages Jewish and Zionist activity and expression within Victoria, to represent the Jewish community, to promote and communicate Israel’s interests within the broader Victorian community and to promote Victoria’s relationship with Israel. For more information, visit the Zionist Council of Victoria website www.zionismvictoria.org.au