Australia: Difference Between Rejecting A Synagogue And A Mosque
There is a punchline toward the end of this article.
Jews in Australia and Israel are shocked and horrified at the announcement that plans to build a new synagogue in Bondi Beach have been rejected because of the security risk it poses.
Sydney blocks synagogue construction over fears Islamists will target it. So much for "not letting terrorists win"
— Jordan Ryan (@jordanjryan) August 4, 2017
Interestingly, the synagogue design itself provided the authorities with the very rationale by which to reject its construction:
Waverley Council objected to large blast-walls proposed for the synagogue because of their visual impact, but also used the measures drawn up by those planning to build the synagogue to argue that if such security was required people moving around the place of worship could be at risk.
In other words, the designers possibly shot themselves in the foot: If had they not been so careful about including anti-attack protections into the blueprints, would being a magnet for terrorist attacks have been raised as a rationale for rejection? If not, well, now all new synagogue proposals will be doomed to having to pass this assessment item.
Sydney Synagogue: Not a Problem of Zoning or Need, So: Hate?
According to a number of other newspaper articles I read, it appears that the site is zoned appropriately for the building of a synagogue, and none raised the possibility that a synagogue was unjustified in that region based on the density of the Jewish population in the area — in other words, the local Jewish community does apparently have a real need for this new synagogue.
Andrew Bolt‘s very short blog post comparing this decision to Nazi Germany’s targetting of Jewish enterprises and synagogues (unjustifiably so, I think) drew over 340 comments, a number of them suggesting that a mosque would have been approved.
That is not necessarily true. In 2014, Gold Coast rejected a proposed mosque, as did both Narre Warren and South Hurstville in 2016. Just last month Brisbane rejected the proposal for an exclusive Muslim residential area to be constructed within the property of an Islamic educational institution.
Why Were These Mosques Rejected?
While the Gold Coast mosque was seen as set up to serve a real need for the local Moslem population, it was deemed too large for the particular site proposed and disruptive to local businesses. The Narre Warren mosque was rejected as unsuitable for the location in which it was planned:
“Council has a record of approving mosques and Islamic schools (as well as similar facilities of other religions) where they meet planning requirements, and opposing them where they do not”
The South Hurstville mosque was rejected for the same reason – it was too large for the site and would be disruptive for the residents in the area.
This does not mean that anti-Islamic sentiments or fear of terrorism did not enter into the decision making.
Councillor Rosalie Crestani [Narre Warren] indicated she would likely always oppose the mosque, regardless of any changes made to its design, due to terrorism fears.
In spite of her objections, the county and the Islamic Trust behind the mosque proposal reportedly began working together several months later to revise the design and adjust it to the environmental criteria. In other words, it is going to look more like a modern building and less like a traditional mosque.
So What’s a Jew to Do?
Perhaps the Jews should take a hint from this and camouflage synagogues so they don’t look like synagogues and the terrorists will just walk on by without noticing.
Of course, the Charles Hebdo office was not a synagogue; restaurants and cafes are not synagogues; concert halls are not synagogues; trains and train stations are not synagogues; supermarkets are not synagogues; . . . need I go on?
Feature Image Credit: Pixabay/BusyHomeSchoolDays [modified by Oz]