Australia Creates Special Envoy Role to Address Antisemitism

Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Jillian Segal speaks during a media conference in Sydney on October 9, 2023.

MELBOURNE — On Tuesday, the Australian government appointed a special envoy to address the surge in antisemitism across the nation since the commencement of the Israel-Hamas war.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese informed reporters at the Sydney Jewish Museum that a similar envoy will be appointed to counter Islamophobia in Australia. Both envoys will work to foster social cohesion.

Albanese’s own Sydney office has been targeted with pro-Palestinian graffiti amidst clashes between rival activists over the Israeli-Hamas conflict in Australian cities and university campuses.

Albanese appointed Jillian Segal, a Sydney-based lawyer and business executive, to serve as the “special envoy to combat antisemitism in Australia” for a period of three years. In this role, she will engage with community groups and report back to Albanese and Andrew Giles, the Minister for Multicultural Affairs.

Segal characterized statistics on antisemitism in Australia as “shocking.” She stated that reports of antisemitism surged by 700% immediately after Hamas militants initiated the war in Gaza by attacking Israel on October 7. These reports continue to run 400% to 500% higher than pre-conflict levels.

Segal highlighted that these reports encompass instances such as boycotts and vandalism of Jewish-owned businesses, as well as the exclusion or social media shadow banning of Jewish artists, which restricts their visibility on platforms.

“Unfortunately, there is no single solution to the enduring problem of antisemitism,” Segal acknowledged.

“However, the establishment of this role demonstrates the government’s resolute commitment to confronting this malevolent force and ensuring its inability to erode the goodness inherent in our society,” she added.

Albanese asserted that a graffiti attack on his inner-Sydney office, which targeted him as a Hamas supporter in December, is being taken seriously and addressed accordingly.

He further condemned the spray-paint vandalism at the Australian National Korean War Memorial and the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial in the national capital, Canberra, that occurred last month.

“I have conversed with members of the Jewish community here, in Melbourne, across Australia, who have felt unsafe, members of the Jewish community whose children are apprehensive about wearing their school uniforms in our capital cities,” Albanese stated. “This is unacceptable. Unacceptable, under any circumstances. And certainly not in Australia in 2024.”

“Our imperative is to ensure that the conflict unfolding in the Middle East, which has caused immense distress within the Jewish community, for members of the Islamic and Palestinian communities—Australians overwhelmingly oppose the importation of this conflict here,” Albanese added.