‘Terrorists have won!’ Outrage after Sydney synagogue banned over ‘extremist threat’

Australian authorities have banned the construction of a synagogue in the Sydney suburbs, citing a potential terrorist attack threat. The step has been labelled “anti-Semitic” and some said it means terrorists “have already won.”

The appeal against the initial decision to refuse construction of the synagogue was rejected on Wednesday by the New South Wales' Land and Environment Court.

The Jewish group Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe asked to build the synagogue in Bondi, an eastern suburb of Sydney. The area is near popular tourist destination Bondi Beach.

The court’s decision said that the construction is “unacceptable” because of the “potential risk to users and other members of the general public.”

“General observations are made on terrorist threats and specific reference is made to the threat to synagogues,” the comments added.
The court cited a document titled "Chabad Bondi (Wellington St) Synagogue - Preliminary Threat & Risk Analysis February 2016" (PTRA), saying that “Australia faces an ongoing threat of terrorism ‘at home’, carried out by supporters of ISIS [Islamic State/IS].”

The synagogue ban shocked and angered the Jewish community, with some saying it was a “sad day” for Australia.

“It’s a very sad day for Australia 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,” NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff told the News.com.au website. 

According to the head of the local Jewish community, Rabbi Yehoram Ulman, the court decision is “rewarding terrorism.”  

“Its implications are enormous. 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,” he stated.

Social media users slammed the court’s decision as “anti-Semitic.”

“This is outright anti-Semitism. And so no doubt the Jews of Bondi have had to pay the costs of the synagogue that hasn’t happened, but exists now in a virtual way, as a symbol of oppression,” one person wrote under a story published on The Australian website, while another added: “It seems the Jewish community is being punished for taking responsibility for its own protection.”

“The terrorists have won!” “Australia, wake up!” said the outraged comments.

People on Twitter wondered if Jews were being deliberately targeted by the Australian authorities.

Others went as far as comparing Australia to Nazi Germany.