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Australia Appoints Special Envoy to Combat Antisemitism Amid Israel-Gaza Conflict

Australia has appointed Jillian Segal as a special envoy to combat antisemitism, amid rising community tensions over the Israel-Gaza war.

Australia has appointed Jillian Segal, a lawyer and businesswoman, as a special envoy to combat antisemitism and preserve social cohesion, following rising community tensions over the Israel-Gaza conflict.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced that Segal will consult with community leaders and discrimination experts to advise the government. This follows similar initiatives in countries like the US, Canada, Greece, and the UK.

Albanese also mentioned that a special envoy for addressing Islamophobia will be appointed soon, as the ongoing conflict has led to protests from both Jewish and Muslim communities, and an increase in antisemitism and Islamophobia.

The Israeli military launched a campaign against Hamas in Gaza after an attack on southern Israel on 7 October, which resulted in around 1,200 deaths and 251 hostages. According to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry, over 38,000 Palestinians have died due to Israel’s offensive.

Albanese stated, “Australians are deeply concerned about this conflict, and many are hurting. In times like this, Australians must come together, not be torn apart.” Segal, who has led several key bodies representing the Jewish community and held leadership roles in the education and banking sectors, emphasised the importance of combating antisemitism, noting a 700% rise in incidents since the conflict began in October.

The appointment has been welcomed by the national peak body for the Australian Jewish community, though other groups, such as The Jewish Council of Australia and The Australian Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN), have expressed concerns about potential increased division. APAN cautioned against conflating antisemitism with criticism of Israel or support for Palestine.

Australia supports a two-state solution and has expressed support for Israel’s right to defend itself. However, recent months have seen increased concerns from Australia about Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, especially after an Australian aid worker was killed in an Israeli air strike.

The governing Labor party has also faced internal tensions, with Senator Fatima Payman quitting over the party’s stance on the war. Payman claimed she was “exiled” after breaking party rules to support a motion recognising Palestinian statehood.

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