Grants help fortify Jewish schools and community sites amid attack fears


“Security requires a multifaceted approach and physical security is an integral part of that approach and relieves some of the dependency and cost of paid security guards,” he said. “Despite substantial government support from political parties on both sides of the aisle, enormous costs are being imposed on our community in financial terms to support security infrastructure.”

According to the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, funding received from the federal government represents only a small portion of the expenses related to securing Jewish schools and community buildings.

Council chairman Daniel Aghion said the fear of a terrorist attack on Melbourne’s Jewish community was well founded.

“We are the canary in the coal mine in many ways for extremist violence and it can range from extremist Islamist violence to extremist neo-Nazi violence,” he said. “We have people who we generally know are being watched by ASIO planning targeted attacks, and those targeted attacks with a plan include synagogues and Jewish cultural institutions. “

Mr Aghion said it was sad that Melbourne’s Jewish community had been forced to adopt such extreme security measures.

“I was born and raised in Melbourne, and one of the things that I find very sad, almost a tragedy actually, are the synagogues that I remember from my childhood, how they looked, the way they stood. present from the street, they are gone, “he said.” They are no longer open and inviting. “

Mr Aghion said the new synagogues looked like office buildings, with no external features to identify them and no Star of David on the outside.

“[A new synagogue] will have a high wall, there will be security gates, if there is a vehicle entrance there will be bollards there. It will have all of those features which basically increase physical security and minimize it as a symbol of community. ”

Islamic and Christian groups in Melbourne also received money as part of the Safer Community Funds for security measures, but Jewish groups by far attracted the majority of funding during the period analyzed by Age.

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Josh Burns, Labor MP for Macnamara, said there had been bipartisan support for grants under the Safer Communities Fund.

“A huge concern for the security agencies and also for the police and obviously the Jewish community is the growing nature and size of these neo-Nazi type figures who have pretty dark and horrific views,” he said. .

Mr Burns said security measures were not a new phenomenon and that much work had been devoted over the years to improving the security of Melbourne’s Jewish community.

“I hope that one day we will not have to have any more security problems in religious or cultural organizations or any other organization, that people will be freer and more relaxed,” he said.

“But until that is the case, action must be taken to keep Australians safe.”

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