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Concerns raised over Australia picking ‘pro-Israel’ lobbyist as antisemitism envoy

New envoy Jillian Segal called ‘Israeli lobbyist' by Jewish Council, warning move could 'drive further division'

Riyaz ul Khaliq and Islamuddin Sajid  | 09.07.2024 - Update : 09.07.2024
Concerns raised over Australia picking ‘pro-Israel’ lobbyist as antisemitism envoy


Concerns have been raised over Australia appointing a "pro-Israel" lawyer as the country’s first antisemitism envoy, with advocacy groups warning it could sow further division.

The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) said the decision to appoint Jillian Segal was “concerning as it singles out antisemitism for special government investment and attention.”

Defending the choice, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Segal would “promote social cohesion,” adding: “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.”

The appointment comes amid mass pro-Palestine demonstrations in Australia.

Segal has served as president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, a group accused of suppressing Palestinian voices in the country.

After losing her job last December at national broadcaster ABC, journalist Antoinette Lattouf accused the group of campaigning against her for political opinions, leading to her dismissal.

Lattouf lost her job when she shared on Instagram a Human Rights Watch report about the situation in Gaza, which has been facing an Israeli offensive for nine months now, killing over 38,000 people.

The APAN accused Canberra of “failing to address the increasingly frequent and severe forms of racism experienced by Palestinians, Muslims, First Nations people and other marginalized communities.”

Canberra has said it will also appoint a special envoy on combating Islamophobia.

‘Singling out antisemitism’

The appointment of Segal “seems to be yet another example of the Australian government pandering to pro-Israel groups, and pitting parts of the Jewish community against the Palestinian and Muslim communities – and against each other – rather than working to realize equal rights and justice for all," said APAN President Nasser Mashni.

Australia’s Jewish Council had already warned Segal’s appointment would “drive division” in the country, calling her an "Israel lobbyist.”

"To single out antisemitism, when other groups are also suffering from racism, including First Nations people, and Palestinian and Muslim communities, undermines wider efforts to fight all forms of racism and will only drive division," the council said.

Mashni said Albanese’s decision to fund an antisemitism envoy “not only risks dividing communities, but also risks further conflating antisemitism with criticism of the Israeli state and its genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.”

"Anti-Palestinian racism and Islamophobia have been on the rise across this continent over the past nine months, with people targeted by smear campaigns, discrimination in workplaces, educational settings and community, vandalism, threats of violence and even in one case, by having an improvised explosive device left on their property," said Mashni.

*Islamuddin Sajid in Pakistan contributed to this story.

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