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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (23 August) . . Page.. 3300..


Adjournment

Motion (by Mr Moore ) proposed:

That the Assembly do now adjourn.

Jewish National Fund

Jewish centre and synagogue

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (5.01): Mr Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to comment on two issues that are of particular importance to members of the Jewish community in Canberra and Australia. The first is that there was a major celebration at Parliament House last night of the centenary of the Jewish National Fund, which I attended in company with my colleague the Attorney-General. This was a significant celebration, attended by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, the Israeli Ambassador, a number of parliamentarians from Israel, members of the executive of the Jewish National Fund, and a large number of other special guests and representatives of the Jewish people of Canberra and Australia.

The Jewish National Fund is the organisation which, through its land development activities and its devotion to ecologically sustainable planning and development, has very much to do with the changing of the physical face of Israel over the last century, Mr Speaker. It is a very significant organisation. One of its major achievements is the fact that since the Second World War it has planted over 250 million trees in Israel. I would like to extend my congratulations to the Jewish National Fund on their centenary.

The second matter on which I wanted to comment today is the attack last Saturday night on the Canberra synagogue and Jewish centre. Mr Speaker, there have been a number of periods of Jewish migration to Australia-after the first white settlement of Australia, during the convict era, during the gold rushes after 1850, after the major Russian pogroms of the 1880s, following the ascension of Adolf Hitler to power in Germany in 1933 and again after the Second World War.

It is notable that many of the Jewish people living in Australia today are either the survivors of persecution or the Holocaust, or the children or relatives of survivors. I do not propose today, Mr Speaker, to talk in detail about the Holocaust. Each of us is aware that there is no parallel, in the history of the world, to the horror of the Holocaust-an attempt by a totalitarian state to use the machinery of the state to exterminate an entire people for no reason other than that they were Jews. One cannot image the extent or nature of the trauma and the psychological adjustment which Jewish people, not just those who were survivors or those directly affected by the Holocaust but all Jews, must have had to deal with as a consequence of the Holocaust and are required to continue to grapple with.

It is in this context that I think we must frame our response to the recent attack on the Jewish centre and synagogue. The Jewish community in Canberra and Australia has made an extraordinary contribution to our community. While we have a responsibility to treat all our citizens equally and to ensure each of them the greatest degree of physical security that it is within our capacity to provide, the history of the persecution of Jews


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