Australia Appoints Special Envoy to Combat Antisemitism Amid Rising Israel-Gaza Tensions

Australia has appointed a special envoy to combat antisemitism and promote social cohesion amid rising tensions over the Israel-Gaza conflict. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced that lawyer and businesswoman Jillian Segal will consult with community leaders and discrimination experts to advise the government. This move follows similar appointments in countries like the US, Canada, Greece, and the UK.

Albanese also mentioned plans to appoint a special envoy to address Islamophobia. The Middle East conflict has sparked protests from both Jewish and Muslim communities in Australia, leading to a significant increase in Islamophobia and antisemitism. The Israeli military’s campaign against Hamas in Gaza, which began after the unprecedented October 7 attack on southern Israel, has resulted in over 38,000 Palestinian deaths according to Gaza’s health ministry.

Albanese emphasized the need for unity, stating, “Australians must come together, not be torn apart.” He described Segal’s appointment as a crucial step in reducing tensions. Segal highlighted the importance of combating antisemitism, noting a 700% increase in incidents since October.

The national peak body for the Australian Jewish community welcomed Segal’s appointment, praising her expertise and energy. However, groups like The Jewish Council of Australia and The Australian Palestine Advocacy Network expressed concerns that the role might exacerbate divisions by conflating antisemitism with criticism of Israel.

Australia’s government supports a two-state solution and has expressed both support for Israel’s right to self-defense and concern over its military actions in Gaza. The governing Labor party has faced internal tensions, with Senator Fatima Payman recently quitting over the party’s stance on the conflict, following her vote to recognize Palestinian statehood in defiance of party rules.

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