A local council has denied a permit requested by Australian Jews to build a synagogue in a suburb of Sydney because it could be a terrorist target.
The Waverly Council said that the proposed location near a beach posed too high a risk to other people in the area, an assessment the local Jewish community said only bent to Islamic extremists.
Rabbi Yehoram Ulman told news.com.au that the decision was “unprecedented.”
“Its implications are enormous. It basically implies that no Jewish organization should be allowed to exist in residential areas,” Ulman said. “It stands to stifle Jewish existence and activity in Sydney and indeed, by creating a precedent, the whole of Australia, and by extension rewarding terrorism.”
The Jewish community appealed the decision but last week, the Land and Environment Court upheld the council’s ruling. The proposed design for the synagogue included blast walls and buildings set back from the street, which the Waverly Council said only bolstered its argument that the site would be a security threat:
“The proposed development should be refused as the site is not suitable for the proposed synagogue use as the Preliminary Threat and Risk Analysis relied on by the applicant raises concerns as to the safety and security of future users of the Synagogue, nearby residents, motorists and pedestrians in Wellington Street and the physical measures proposed to deal with the identified threats will have an unacceptable impact on the streetscape and adjoining properties.”
The Australian authorities also opposed the structural safety measures because they were unsightly. The council justified its decision, saying that “strong anti-Semitic undertones pervade much of ISIS’s online presence and literature” had caused attacks at other Jewish institutions around the world.
“In today’s climate, many communities are required to take security precautions, as are public institutions such as police, emergency departments, government buildings and a range of other facilities,” Jewish Board of Deputies Director Vic Alhadeff told The Australian. “The ruling sets a very dangerous precedent.”
The Waverly Council general manager told the Daily Telegraph that if another application for the synagogue were submitted, it would have to be “considered afresh.”