“This simply shows how we’re all losing our freedoms. Those who want us to be afraid are winning, and this ill-conceived judgement represents a dangerous precedent,” says Jewish community leader.
An Australian court upheld a ban on the construction of a new synagogue in the neighborhood of Bondi, Sydney, on the grounds that it posed an unacceptable security risk.
Australia’s Land and Environmental Court backed a decision by the Waverley Council to prohibit the construction of the synagogue in Sydney’s world-famous Bondi Beach suburb.
According to News.com.au, the local council conducted a risk assessment and concluded that a new synagogue would be an attractive target for Islamic State (ISIS) terrorism.
The ruling stated that the proposed synagogue site “raises concerns as to the safety and security of future users of the synagogue, nearby residents, motorists and pedestrians in Wellington Street and the physical measures proposed to deal with the identified threats will have an unacceptable impact on the streetscape and adjoining properties.”
The Council added that any efforts to modify the proposed synagogue design to make it more secure and mollify concerns would also be unacceptable because “physical measures proposed to deal with the identified threats will have an unacceptable impact on the streetscape and adjoining properties.”
Members of the Jewish community of Bondi expressed concern over the ruling.
It is a “sad day” when a religious group’s rights were being restricted because it was a target for violent extremists, Vic Alhadeff, the head of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, told News.com.au.
“This simply shows how we’re all losing our freedoms. Those who want us to be afraid are winning, and this ill-conceived judgment represents a dangerous precedent,” he said.
‘A Shameful Day for this Country’
Calling the decision unprecedented, local Rabbi Yehoram Ulman told the Australian news website that the implications of the decision were “enormous.”
“It basically implies that no Jewish organization should be allowed to exist in residential areas,” he said. “It stands to stifle Jewish existence and activity in Sydney and indeed, by creating a precedent, the whole of Australia, and by extension rewarding terrorism.”
The decision “came as surprise and shock to the entire Jewish community,” he stated.
Anger over the decision was not restricted to the Jewish community. Writing in the Herald Sun, popular columnist and political commentator Andrew Bolt asked if the next step would be sending “Jews back to the ghettos.”
“What next? Jewish shops also moved out to spare the residents,” he asked. “Imagine what such a council in Germany would have decided when the Nazis started to target Jewish synagogues and shops. Protect the Jews – or evict them. What a shameful day for this country.”