Friends of the Jewish community were among the 5000 who packed the Entertainment Quarter Showring at Moore Park on Sunday to stand in solidarity with Israel and call for the release of the hostages in Gaza.
Israeli flags flew alongside those from a range of other nations amid a sea of signs featuring the kidnapped. A number of speakers addressed the event.
Ukrainian Council of NSW vice-president Andrew Mencinsky condemned Hamas’s barbaric attack on behalf of his community.
“We feel your pain and the pain of every family in Israel. For the last 18 months, Ukrainians have felt a similar pain and witnessed a similar horror,” he said.
“We are both forced to fight for the same basic rights to be ourselves and to live safely in our own lands.”
Hindu Council of Australia national vice-president Surinder Jain declared, “I stand here in solidarity with the Australian Jewish people and Israel, representing the Hindu community of Australia,” before introducing leaders from the Catholic, Chinese, Assyrian, Iraqi, Greek and African communities, who pinned ribbons on a Magen David on the stage in solidarity.
Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) co-CEO Alex Ryvchin said the Jewish people “are together, one people, with one mission and one destiny”.
“We stand here today with our fellow Australians with clarity in our minds and hope in our hearts, hope for the swift and complete victory of the heroic forces of the IDF – may they be blessed – hope for the safe rescue of every hostage, hope for the complete destruction of Hamas and hope for an era of peace for the land of Israel,” he expressed.
ECAJ president Jillian Segal noted antisemitism in Australia and abroad increased “before Israel even began its response” to October 7.
“Incidents on the ECAJ’s assessment have soared by at least 400 per cent since October 7. We will not be intimidated,” she said.
Co-organiser Avi Efrat, who together with a group of Israeli Australians organised the Martin Place rally two Sundays prior, said, “If we have to say something, we will say it loud and clear.
“Our call to action is to put pressure on the Australian government to help release our people.
“Hamas-ISIS is not only the problem of Israel, it is the problem of the world.”
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBD) president David Ossip acknowledged First Nations people present, noting “in the same way that you are indigenous to this land, the Jewish people are indigenous to the land of Israel”.
Dedicating the event to the victims of October 7 as well as the 240 hostages, he said, “As long as their liberty is denied, we will pray for their welfare and speak out and demand that they be set free.”
JBD honorary secretary Melissa McCurdie spoke of how her cousin and cousin’s husband, residents of Kibbutz Be’eri, were “miraculously not on the kibbutz that fateful Saturday”.
“But 11 members of their family were … three were found murdered.
“Seven were kidnapped … None of these seven have been heard from since. The waiting and the not knowing are unbearable. Please, I ask you all, talk about them. Bring them and all the hostages to the attention of the world.”
Federal Member for Wentworth Allegra Spender and Vaucluse state MP Kellie Sloane also attended the event.