In the space of 24 hours, three distinct incidents helped serve as a reminder of the current threat to the Australian Jewish community.
A business associate and I were having lunch at a kosher restaurant in Bondi. As we sat enjoying a fine burger, he pointed out to me a car that was in a no-standing zone opposite the restaurant, the driver of which was taking pictures of the restaurant. Clearly, these people were “casing” the location as part of a plan to attack the venue in some way. As soon as they saw that we had spotted them, they quickly sped off. I called the Melbourne CSG (Community Security Group), and within a few minutes received a call from their counterpart organization in Sydney. We supplied details such as the number plate, description of the car and the men in it. My understanding is that the CSG liaises with police on several levels to share information about potential threats.
That very evening, a police officer arrived at my door with a summons. I was actually on the way home from the airport at the time, and needless to say, the family were somewhat surprised! It was a summons to appear and testify for the prosecution in the case against a bunch of football hoons who racially abused and then beat a man on his way to synagogue.
The next morning, I was walking to synagogue before 6am (don’t ask), when a car drove past me and several young men inside shouted “Hey, Jew”at me from open windows, then threw some small objects at me. While in the past, I would ignore this sort of stupidity and cowardly behaviour, this time I noted down the number plate, and a description of the event while it was fresh in my mind, and then sent the details to my friend at CSG.
The task of those people at CSG is a difficult one. For any preventative activity like the “war on terror” or the new laws and other steps taken by the Australian government against potential terrorist attacks, a key measure of its success is that nothing happens, which itself cannot be measured. While we hear every now and then about “foiled plots” in various parts of the world, we can never know what might have been if …
We hear the stories of attacks at Glicks or against teenagers at a tram stop, and in many cases we know this second hand (i.e. know someone who was actually directly affected). In just a short space of time, I was confronted first hand by several examples of people who wish bad upon me and my people. Was I physically hurt? Did I feel scared? Fortunately not. What I do feel now is an increased vigilance and awareness. I am alert, but I am not alarmed.