Israeli protest Canberra
Israeli supporters have staged a protest in Canberra calling for hostages to be freed. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS
  • politics

Australia safety pledge as Israel issues travel warning


December 5, 2023

Jewish people have been promised Australia is a safe place for them despite Israel issuing travel warnings for its citizens looking to visit the country.

Israel has upgraded travel warnings to multiple countries, including Australia, following a rise in anti-Semitism stemming from conflict in the Middle East.

Travel warnings to Australia have been raised to level two, which urges Israeli citizens to take additional precautions while visiting.

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles urged greater social cohesion in Australia following the conflict.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles.
 Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles says there has been a rise in anti-Semitism since October 7. Image by AP PHOTO 

“It’s really important that all of us, in what is a very difficult time globally, are looking after each other,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday.

“It is very important that as people legitimately express their views about what’s happening in the world, this is done in a peaceful manner … many in the Jewish community are finding this to be a very difficult time.”

Mr Marles admitted there had been a rise in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia since October 7 when Israel declared war on Hamas, which has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the federal government.

A temporary ceasefire, which enabled hostages to be exchanged, has ended but calls are growing for a permanent pause in the conflict.

The upgraded travel warning from Israel was a terrible stain on Australia, opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham said.

“The idea that Jewish people or Israeli citizens would somehow have to take extra precautions in visiting Australia because of the rise of anti-Semitism … is something that must be tackled at the highest levels,” he told Sky News.

“We should be working to restore Australia’s reputation because we should be one of the safest countries in the world.”

The issue needed to be above politics, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said. 

Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong
 Anti-Semitism must be condemned, Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong told parliament. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS 

It was essential all politicians sent “a clear message that all forms of prejudice and discrimination are to be condemned”, she said.

“That we work always for acceptance, respect and unity,” she told parliament.

“That we condemn prejudice wherever we see it, we condemn anti-Semitism just as we condemn all forms of prejudice, including Islamophobia.”

Israel had also increased its travel warnings for other countries including the United Kingdom, Germany and France.

The opposition has been calling for national cabinet to address rising anti-Semitism when Prime Minister Anthony Albanese meets state and territory leaders on Wednesday.

The upgrade to travel warnings was a national shame as Jews covered identifying symbols, Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-chief executive Alex Ryvchin said.