Attack ‘won’t stop Jews from being Jews’

Attack ‘won’t stop Jews from being Jews’

Australian Jewish community leaders condemn deadly attack targeting a synagogue in German city of Halle; community alert level remains unchanged.

Police officers cross a wall at a crime scene in Halle, Germany, Oct. 9, 2019 after a shooting incident. (Sebastian Willnow/dpa via AP)
Police officers cross a wall at a crime scene in Halle, Germany, Oct. 9, 2019 after a shooting incident. (Sebastian Willnow/dpa via AP)

AUSTRALIA’S Jewish roof body has warned that a deadly shooting targeting a synagogue in the German city of Halle on Yom Kippur “will not stop Jews from being Jews”.

At least two people were shot dead on Wednesday, police said, with witnesses saying that the gunmen tried to enter a synagogue as dozens of Jews marked Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year.

The alert level for the Australian Jewish community remains unchanged, CSG NSW said on Thursday.

CSG NSW head of security Matt Meyerson told The AJN, “There is no change to the current threat level as a result of what has taken place in Germany.

“CSG continues to monitor the local threat environment in conjunction with local and federal authorities and it’s business as usual.”

A woman was killed near the synagogue, and a man was killed in a local kebab shop.

One suspect was captured, police said, as security was ramped up in synagogues and other Jewish sites across Germany.

The gunman filmed himself launching into a diatribe against women and Jews, before carrying out the attack, in a disturbing repeat of the modus operandi of the attacker in the Christchurch mosque attack earlier this year.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the deadly shooting, adding an expression of “solidarity for all Jews on the holy day of Yom Kippur”. The chancellor later attended a vigil at Berlin’s main synagogue.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the “terrorist attack on the community in Halle in Germany on Yom Kippur is a new expression of antisemitism on the rise in Europe”.

“I urge German authorities to continue to act resolutely against the phenomenon of antisemitism,” Netanyahu tweeted.

Condemning the attack, Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Alex Ryvchin told The AJN on Thursday the crime will not stop Jews from “gathering in their holy places to mark festivals and life-cycle events”.

“But it does challenge the very basis of liberal democracy. If people in free societies cannot gather with their co-religionists to practise their faith for fear of being annihilated, it tears at the very fabric of human freedom,” Ryvchin said.

“This is why the scourge of antisemitic terror is not merely a paramount Jewish concern, it should unite all decent people and harden our determination to exterminate the evil of antisemitism once and for all.”

Describing the attack as “particularly heinous, coinciding as it did with a time when the greatest number of Jews were at synagogue”, the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) said, “This was an attack not just on Jews, but on the civil liberties and rights which define free societies, namely the right to practice one’s religion in safety.”

AIJAC called on political leaders, both at home and abroad, to “recognise the danger posed by anti-Jewish and far-right-wing and other extremists, publicly name the problem, and show the political leadership necessary to deal with it in its local and international manifestations”.

Anti-Defamation Commission chair Dvir Abramovich said, “This latest episode of barbarism is a tragic reminder of the threatening atmosphere for Jews in Germany, and has chilling echoes to the Christchurch and Poway killers who livestreamed their attacks.

“We trust that the German government and law enforcement agencies will do everything in their power to ensure the community is secure and safe from harm.”

Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler said it is “abhorrent to think that while Jews were inside, their hearts full of love and forgiveness while praying on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, a force of evil stood outside, filled with hatred hoping to open fire on them for the very reason that they were Jewish”.

“Our community stands in solidarity with the Jewish community in Halle, and sends its deepest condolences to the families of the two innocent bystanders who were murdered in this senseless attack,” Leibler said.

“We strongly condemn the attack and the blatant antisemitism that incited it.”

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