Our longtime Australian commenter and occasional contributor Julius O’Malley left an informative comment on last night’s post about the synagogue that will not be built in a suburb of Sydney. The planning request for a new synagogue in Bondi was turned down, ostensibly because it would cause an increased risk of terrorism in the area.
Mr. O’Malley’s detailed explanation of the local political currents in Bondi and adjacent suburbs provides some welcome nuance on the situation. It seems the purported fear of terrorism is actually just a cover for the time-honored lefty cause of supporting “Palestine” and keeping the Jews down.
The text below has been edited for punctuation:
Here is the judgment of the Land & Environment Court of New South Wales upholding Waverley Council’s refusal of planning permission for a new synagogue at Bondi.
The sad reality is that Jewish institutions are targets of Muslim hostility. Everybody knows it; they don’t want to acknowledge it and don’t want to assume the personal risk of being collateral damage when a synagogue is firebombed, shot up, etc. Islam wins.
While everything Gavin Boby states in the interview is correct, it has little direct bearing on this case as there was no Muslim opposition to the proposed synagogue — which was a Chabad, ultra-Orthodox, synagogue. What makes this case very interesting is the subtext to the refusal of planning permission by the local council — the Court was merely persuaded by the Council’s security concerns argument, as reading the case will make obvious.
To understand the subtext here, one has to understand the demographics of Waverley, the local government area in which Bondi sits. While there are at least five synagogues, several Jewish primary, secondary and pre-schools in Waverley Municipality and several more just beyond its borders, and there is one street in Bondi where the street name is a local byword for the ultra-orthodox Jewish community and another street nearby is simply nicknamed “Kosher Boulevarde”, Bondi is not a Jewish neighbourhood per se. Waverley LGA [local government area], less so again, although another of its suburbs to the north of Bondi, Dover Heights, is nicknamed “Jehovah Heights” and its neighbor, Rose Bay, is nicknamed “Nose Bay”. Another suburb adjoining Bondi and Waverley, the very affluent Bellevue Hill, has the highest density of Jews (by postcode) in Australia and is nicknamed “Bellejew Hill”. It is the other, non-Jewish, demographic of Bondi and of Waverley that is in play here.
Waverley is home to the iconic Bondi Beach and several other beautiful ocean beaches such as Bronte and Tamarama (“Glamarama”). It attracts “Bo-Bo’s” (Bourgeois-Bohemians) and affluent hipsters and has been gentrified since the 1970’s. Such people vote to give the left wing faction of the Labor Party and the Green Party a very substantial, often dominant presence, in the local council and in state parliamentary representation. The left wing of the Labor Party and the Green Party are both deeply, ahem, “pro-Palestine”. They are never “anti-Israel”, of course, although they are increasingly willing to go on the record as “anti-Zionist”.
A recent representative for the seat of Waverley in the NSW state parliament was the former mayor of Waverley, Paul Pearce, who is a member of the left wing faction of the Labor Party (and inherited the seat from another Left Laborite, Ernie Page). The balding Pearce, now cruising through life on a generous parliamentary pension, sports a ponytail and ear-ring and used to wear Che Guevara cufflinks to state parliament. Pearce bequeathed the mayoralty of Waverley to his left-faction Labor Party girlfriend (they are both in their late 50s-early 60s and have lived in Pearce’s father’s impressive multi-million dollar home overlooking Bronte beach for several decades) Ingrid Strewe, who used to speak glowingly of her years living in East Berlin before 1990 where “there was free childcare so women could have careers” — never mind the Stasi.
Getting the picture of Waverley? The Bo-Bo’s, hipsters and others who vote for the likes of Pearce, Strewe and the former Labor Party (left faction) federal candidate for the area, David Patch, or for the Green Party, would never, ever, come out in the open and state “We don’t like Jews and don’t want them or their schools or places of worship around” but … .
I recently obtained a surprising insight into how some people in the Waverley area feel about the armed security guards stationed outside synagogues and Jewish schools. I accept such a presence as a natural and normal response to danger. The wife of an artist from the area, however, whined to me at a dinner about how offensive it was to her that security guards outside a Waverley synagogue would stare at her as she drove past. When I made the point that they had to be wary of who was passing by their synagogue for security reasons, especially on a Saturday, she responded: “They wouldn’t need security guards if they weren’t doing what they’re doing in Palestine”! It is that type of sentiment and viewpoint amongst (presumably many) of the non-Jews of Waverley that drives the refusal of planning permission for a new synagogue at Bondi.
Interestingly, the group that proposed the Bondi synagogue formally called themselves “Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe”; no doubt in an attempt to garner some of the extraordinary sympathy extended to “refugees” in our era.