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Jillian Segal: Prime minister names Jillian Segal as first Australian anti-S...

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Published Time: 09.07.2024 - 10:18:04 Modified Time: 09.07.2024 - 10:18:04

Ms Segal is an accomplished lawyer with extensive experience, including as deputy chancellor of UNSW, serving on the board of the National Australia Bank and as a president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ). Jillian Segal


Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has named Jewish lawyer and leader Jillian Segal as the nation's first anti-Semitism envoy, in response to the rise of Jewish being targeted amid the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict.

Ms Segal is an accomplished lawyer with extensive experience, including as deputy chancellor of UNSW, serving on the board of the National Australia Bank and as a president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ).

Announcing her appointment as special envoy for three years, Mr Albanese said Ms Segal's appointment would promote social cohesion.

"What we need to do is to make sure that the conflict that is occurring in the Middle East — that has caused a great deal of grief for the Jewish community, for members of the Islamic and Palestinian communities — Australians overwhelmingly do not want conflict brought here," Mr Albanese said.

"We hope there is not a need for ongoing work, but it has been a reminder over recent months that we cannot take respect and social cohesion for granted. We need to nourish it."

Ms Segal will advise the prime minister and Multicultural Affairs Minister Andrew Giles on issues of anti-Semitism, and promote education and awareness of the issue.

Mr Giles said Ms Segal was someone of "unflinching principle and unwavering strength". 

Mr Albanese also reconfirmed the government would also shortly appoint a special envoy on Islamophobia.

Since October 7, Jewish in Australia have reported feeling more unsafe, with cases of children at Jewish schools being fearful of wearing their uniforms, Jewish being targeted and the Australian War Memorial vandalised with graffiti that the prime minister said was anti-Semitic.

More than 1,100 were killed in the Hamas attack on October 7, including 764 civilians, with another 251 taken hostage.

More than 38,000 Palestinians have been killed since October 7 and tens of thousands more injured, according to the United Nations and the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

Ms Segal said she felt humbled and privileged to have been appointed.

"As an Australian, I have experienced the best of humanity. Our country, as we've just heard, is marked by a kind and compassionate .

"[But] as needs to be constantly remembered, we need to be vigilant to protect our tolerant and peaceful way of life. Anti-Semitism erodes all that is good and healthy in a society — as such, it poses a threat not just to the Jewish community, but to our entire nation.

"Anti-Semitism is an age-old hatred. It has the capacity to lie dormant through good times and then, in times of crisis like pandemic, which we've experienced, economic downturn, war, it awakens."

Ms Segal said after the Hamas terror attack in Israel on October 7 incidences of anti-Semitism increased by 700 per cent.

She pointed to social media as an accelerant in spreading social media, and disinformation.

Mr Albanese also criticised community behaviour online, saying were taking a complex conflict and simplifying it in "100 characters".

"[] make statements that they never would face to face," he said.

"Social cohesion is not advanced by thinking this is a football team where you're cheering for one team or another."

The Coalition welcomed Ms Segal's appointment, but said stronger immediate action was needed, such as a judicial inquiry into anti-Semitism on university campuses.

Liberal MP Julian Leeser said "the test for government is whether they will take action following her advice" on matters of anti-Semitism.

The Jewish Council of Australia, which has been critical of Israel's actions in Gaza, said in a statement Ms Segal was an "Israel lobbyist" and her appointment would worsen division.

"We are concerned this anti-Semitism envoy will fail to distinguish between Jewishness and support for Israel. This risks erasing the large number of Jewish in Australia who, like us, believe in Palestinian freedom and justice and are opposed to Israel’s violence against Palestinians," the group said.

We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander s as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of the lands where we live, learn, and work.

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