Melbourne, 7 November 2023:
Four weeks ago Hamas terrorists invaded Israel from Gaza massacring 1,400 people and injuring thousands more. They also kidnapped more than 240 Israelis and foreigners, taking them as hostages to Gaza and using them as a human shield for terrorism.
Over the past month there has been an outpouring of grief, anger and fear. Despite this, Australia has led the world in providing the support and leadership our nation is known for.
Families, schools and individuals have volunteered and donated in record numbers while six former Prime Ministers sent a powerful message about their support for Israel and the Australian Jewish community.
Whether it is kindergarten kids sending drawings of support to children in Israel or nonagenarians knitting beanies and sorting donations, the community has mobilised in support of Israel and her people. There has been a particular focus on calling for the release of kidnapped hostages, through awareness raising rallies, installations and events – many of which have been wholly run by volunteers.
United Israel Appeal’s ‘Victims of Terror Fund’ was launched as a first responder in the recovery process for families impacted by the terrorist attacks. More than 2,000 grants for absolute necessities such as accommodation, food, funeral expenses and psychological support have already been provided on-the-ground in Israel.
In homes and halls, communities have come together to pack donated goods and supplies for the 125,000 Israelis evacuated from their homes.
“Australians have always believed in social justice and it’s a strong value in Jewish tradition too – but translating it into action is what counts,” said Jeremy Leibler, President of the Zionist Federation of Australia.
“The most important thing for us to do in times when terrorism is trying to win is to do something – not just say something – that will make the difference,” Mr Leibler added.
A month of Australian kindnesses
1. Six former Australian Prime Ministers issue a joint letter in support of Israel and the Australian Jewish community.
2. Attorney General Mark Dreyfus commits $25 million to immediately improve community safety measures across Australia. Enhancing safety at Jewish schools and pre-schools across Australia.
3. Australians with specialist skills are flying to Israel to join the nation’s war against Hamas. 4. DFAT, Qantas and Virgin arrange repatriation flights to get people home safely.
5. Jewish community rallies in Canberra, Byron Bay, Tasmania, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide Sydney, Perth and across Tasmania and the Northern Territory.
6. Prime Minister Albanese promises community safety speaking to 25 community leaders at St Kilda Synagogue, part of his government’s commitment to keep the Jewish community safe from antisemitism.
7. Thousands gather in Sydney for vigil in support of Israel on 11 Oct.
8. Australian teachers volunteer their time to teach children in Israel via Zoom
9. Victims of terror fund launched by UIA Australia to provide immediate support for victims of the Hamas massacre.
10. Australian cities light landmarks in support of Israel.
11. Shabbat tables with empty seats representing the hostages set up.
12. Challah bakes across Australia brought people together and raised donations for affected Israelis.
13. 150+ cartons filled with underwear and socks were flown to Israel thanks to a generous donor.
14. Australia-Israel partnership to accelerate medical innovation and health service transformation.
15. A strategic partnership between Jewish House and MindSkiller create a new digital mental health education, training and innovation platform that recently launched in Australia.
16. In Byron Bay community members, including many Israelis, marched with pushers (representing kidnapped children) to the lighthouse.
17. National Council of Jewish Women volunteers knit beanies.
18. ‘Brissie Teens Unite’ brought young people together to learn from each other and develop social media advocacy skills facilitated by youth educators.
19. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese condemns Hamas – bipartisan motion passed in Federal Parliament.
20. St Ives grocer supports local community by donating proceeds to victims of terror in Israel.
21. Hebrew speaking psychologists volunteer to support Israelis and Australians requiring counselling.
22. Host families across the country offer their homes to Israeli travellers in Australia.
23. Victorian Premier, Jacinta Allan, stands with Israel and the Jewish community on the steps of Parliament House
24. Tech companies step up following Hamas attack on Israel, as cyber assaults escalate.
25. Balloons of Hope installation at Fed Square visited by Deputy Premier, of Victoria, Ben Carroll
26. Foreign Minister Penny Wong speaks at the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce.
27. Remarks at the Community Solidarity Gathering, Caulfield Synagogue, by Deputy PM Richard Marles, Sen James Paterson, Deputy Premier Ben Carroll and Leader of the Opposition John Pesutto
28. NCJWA drop-in group sessions for women to speak with therapists to get support and connection.
29. Prayer gatherings at progressive and orthodox synagogues as well as a Christian prayer event in support of Israel.
30. Installation of 230 beach towels and pairs of thongs besides posters of the kidnapped on a fence at Bondi Beach, one towel for each hostage.
31. A silent Vigil at Federation Square to mark hostages’ one month in captivity.