“THIS circus has gone on long enough.” It’s perhaps the most memorable quote of 2019, uttered by Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler after Malka Leifer was granted yet another psychiatric assessment in an Israeli court, and Jewish Australians began wondering if she will ever be returned here to face charges of child sexual abuse. We hope 2020 will be a breakthrough year on this case, helping to bring some form of closure for her alleged victims.
This year brought much news about antisemitism – it haunted the corridors of power in Britain where Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and sections of his party were widely portrayed as being no friends of the Jews.
But we didn’t have to look overseas for antisemitism. Aside from a spate of graffiti across the country, The AJN reported two deplorable attacks on Jewish pupils at Melbourne public schools: a five-year-old harassed by classmates who questioned him about being circumcised, calling him “Jewish vermin”, and a 12-year-old beaten up and forced to kneel and kiss a Muslim boy’s feet.
These incidents became the subject of a Victorian government review, whose findings were welcomed by some communal organisations, while the victims’ parents felt the recommendations didn’t go far enough and lamented a lack of consultation.
However, it bears considering that a couple of generations ago, when immigrant parents were less confident of their place in a far less inclusive Australia, anti-Jewish bullying would almost certainly not have prompted such an investigation.
Divisiveness and ideological tribalism continued to characterise political debate in Australia and overseas, driven by a 24-hour news cycle and by social media, with its compulsive, simplistic, often vitriolic tweets and posts.
We had a surprise election result this year – few people expected Scott Morrison’s battle-scarred Coalition to retain government. But at least Australians only had to vote once. In Israel, there were two elections, both ending in deadlock, with a third now planned for March. Israelis will again walk the well-trodden track to the polling booths, hopefully this time to create their next government.
The AJN wishes its readers a relaxing end-of-year break and a fulfilling start to the new decade in 2020.