Naftali Bennett
Naftali BennettFlash 90

Israel has sent a strong message to Australia condemning last weekend's attack on the Behar family, who were attacked Saturday as they walked in a suburb of Sydney, Australia, Economics Minister Naftali Bennett said Wednesday. In response to a query by United Torah Judaism MK Uri Maklev, Bennett said he had spoken with Jewish community leaders in Australia, expressing Israel's support for them and promising to work to stem anti-Semitism in the country.

The victims of the attack, five members of the Behar family, were walking on Blair Street, Bondi, at about 12:30 AM Saturday, on their way home from a Sabbath eve meal, when a group of about eight young men began yelling anti-Semitic insults at them, and then attacked them. The five suffered injuries including a fractured cheekbone, broken nose, concussion, lacerations and bruising. Police have arrested three of the alleged perpetrators.

In a statement, the family on Monday thanked authorities for their intervention and quick response to the incident. “We wish to thank the police for their fast response on the night of the incident, as well as St Vincent’s Hospital emergency staff, the ambulance service, the shopkeepers who offered assistance, the locals who tried to help, the hotel bouncers who eventually came to our aid,” the statement said.

“Our objective at this time is not vengeance, but justice and concern. We want justice to be done in regard to the perpetrators. And we are concerned about the need for the education of future generations about the importance of goodwill and tolerance, and the need for society to embrace those concepts. We would like to see proactive measures in that regard,” the statement said, adding that “people should be free to walk the streets in safety, without fear of being attacked because of the color of their skin or the race to which they belong.”

Speaking in the Knesset, Maklev said that the victims of the attacked “were miraculously saved, but the fact that such an attack could take place in Australia, a country without a history of anti-Semitism, is worrying. We demand that the Australian government take responsibility for this problem and deal with it in an aggressive manner, as several European countries have done. Australia cannot ignore this attack,” he said, adding that “our parliament calls on their parliament to find solutions to this problem.”

Responding to Maklev, Bennett said that the incident “was a very serious one, but it is not typical of Australia at this time. We of course aggressively condemn this attack, and we have made this clear to the government there.”