Tuesday, 17 October 2006

Melbourne Ultra Orthodox Man Assulted On Simchat Torah

When I read this article from The Australian Jewish News today, it made me feel sick. I can't believe that these things are happening in Australia, it is really very sad...

An ultra-Orthodox man spent Simchat Torah night in a Melbourne hospital after being physically and verbally assaulted in an allegedly antisemitic attack.

Menachem Vorchheimer was walking to Yeshivah shul with two of his children at around 6.30pm last Saturday when he claims he was confronted by a group of young men in a minibus shouting antisemitic slogans, including "F**king Jews" and "Go the Nazis", and motioning at him as if they were firing machine guns.

When the bus stopped at the lights at the corner of Balaclava Road and Hotham Street, Vorchheimer, 33, approached the driver to inquire about the group.

"The racial taunts were deeply hurtful, particularly given when my father and grandparents had suffered at the hands of the Nazis," Vorchheimer said in a statement.

As the bus drove off, two of the passengers reportedly leaned out the window and grabbed Vorchheimer's hat and kippa.

A passing car then pursued the bus, cutting it off around 150 metres down Carlisle Street.

Vorchheimer ran towards the stationary bus, pleading for his hat, which was then thrown out of the window.

But when he approached the bus window to plead for his kippa, he said two of the passengers grabbed him by the arms, while a third punched him in the eye.

"I could feel the blood coming down my face ... I was in a lot of pain, but determined to ensure they were going to be made accountable."

To prevent the bus from leaving, Vorchheimer and others blockaded the vehicle until the police and ambulance arrived. He was later treated at Cabrini Hospital for facial injuries.

But Vorchheimer, who runs a textile company, told the AJN at a press conference on Monday that he had no regrets about his behaviour during the incident.

"It never crossed my mind that I would have been [physically] assaulted," he said, adding that he had previously been the victim of antisemitic slurs.

Gavin Queit, director of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria's Community Security Group, said the incident was the fifth physical assault on a Jew in Victoria this year.

He told the AJN that he hoped the "police will prosecute [the perpetrators] to the full extent of the law".

Vorchheimer added: "While they're more than likely to get a slap on the wrist ... at the end of the day we have to set social standards of acceptable behaviour."

Member for Caulfield Helen Shardey, who attended Monday's conference, said: "Although the police do a wonderful job, because there are usually no witnesses, no-one has been able to be held accountable."

Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) president Grahame Leonard said the "clear-cut" incident follows a national record of more than 140 antisemitic incidents in July. To date, there has never been a conviction for an antisemitic incident in Victoria.

Leonard said he was disappointed to see the greatest spike in incidents in Victoria, which was "not typical for the capital of multiculturalism in Australia".

In August, at the height of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, an ultra-Orthodox man was physically assaulted. The other three physical assaults, including an attack on an Orthodox rabbi, occurred earlier in the year.

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.... Just another day ....

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