Friday, 23 Feb 2018 - 8 of Adar, 5778

Construction permit for new synagogue in Sydney rejected on grounds that it would be a security risk

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SYDNEY (EJP)—The construction permit of a new synagogue in Sidney, Australia, has been denied on the grounds that it would be a security risk, a decision which has “effectively placed in jeopardy the future of Jewish life in Australia,” members of the Jewish community said, according to a report in The Australian Jewish News.

“The decision is unprecedented,” Rabbi Yehoram Ulman, of the Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe (FREE)  told Australian media after the Land and Environment Court backed the decision by the Waverley Council to ban the construction of the new synagogue in the Sydney suburb of Bondi — expressing the fear that it would become a target for Islamist terrorists.

“Its implications are enormous,” Rabbi Ulman said. “It basically implies that no Jewish organization should be allowed to exist in residential areas. It stands to stifle Jewish existence and activity in Sydney and indeed, by creating a precedent, the whole of Australia, and by extension rewarding terrorism.”

A spokesperson for Waverley Council said that the Council “did not refuse this development application. It was a decision of the Land and Environment Court.”

The spokesperson noted that the Court “found the potential risks outlined by the applicant’s own report were not addressed appropriately. In particular, the risks to neighbours and passers by were not sufficiently addressed.’’ 

“The Court found that it was clearly the applicant’s responsibility to address these risks. For this reason, the Court refused the appeal.”

A Jewish leader in Sydney, Vic Alhadeff, said the  decision by the Court ‘’sets a dangerous precedent which has the ability to stifle the establishment, expansion or upgrade of key Jewish institutions”.

“In today’s climate many communities are required to take security precautions, as are public institutions such as police stations, emergency departments, government buildings and a range of other facilities,” Alhadeff said.

“It’s a sad day if an established community which needs a house of worship is refused permission to build it because of fear that others may pose a threat. This is a victory for terrorism,’’ added the Chief Executive of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies.

About 120,000 Jews live in Australia, 50,000 of them in the Sydney area.

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