Australian Jews slam ‘inhuman’ Gaza conflict

The following story appears on the ABC today:

More than 100 Australian Jews have signed a letter describing Israel’s military action in Gaza as disproportionate.

The letter has been written by the group Independent Australian Jewish Voices.

Among the signatories is the former Whitlam government MP Moss Cass, the writer Linda Jaivin, and the New South Wales Greens MP Ian Cohen.

A spokesman for the group, Antony Loewenstein, believes the Gaza offensive is inhuman.

“There is a growing number of Jews around the world, tens of thousands if not more in the last week, [who] if nothing else have spoken out forcefully against Israel,” he said.

“Yes, we believe Israel has the right to security, that goes without saying. But the fact is that Australian Jews, and any other Jew in the world, any other citizen for that matter, has the right to speak out.”

But the deputy chief of mission at the Israeli embassy in Canberra, Eli Yerushalmi, says people who are not in Israel are not well placed to comment on the action.

“It’s very easy to sit down in cities, in the safety of Australia or other countries, and criticise Israel,” he said.

“We are in a different kind of situation where 15 per cent of our population is now in shelters, our kids aren’t going to school, people cannot go to the supermarket, people can’t move around freely, because they’re afraid of rocket attacks.”