Aussies To Jews: Why Don’t You Go Away? You’re Too Dangerous

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A court in Australia has denied an appeal by a Jewish congregation that wanted to build a synagogue in a largely Jewish suburb of Sydney.

Local government officials first denied the application, citing a familiar smorgasbord of design elements and suitability for the neighborhood. (My favorite reason:  There’s already another synagogue nearby.)

The commissioner for the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales rejected those arguments. So why did he also reject the synagogue?


The synagogue could be a target for terrorists. That could pose a safety problem for people in the neighborhood. What’s the solution?

Don’t build the synagogue.

How did the court commissioner figure out the synagogue could be a target for terrorists?

The Jews told him. Their designer initially wanted to put a wall along the street that could absorb a blast from a car bomb or something similar. Local officials said no, that would look ugly. O.K., the Jews said, how ‘bout we design the walls of the synagogue to absorb a blast?

That gave the court the opening to cite “guidelines” (think regulations) issued by the state of New South Wales in 2001 requiring developers to minimize risks of crime or risk getting their project rejected.

The tedious, repetitive, almost-7,000-word court ruling comes crashing to an end out of the blue when it says a consultant for the synagogue didn’t “provide sufficient evidence” that he addressed “a potential unacceptable risk of threat” from the synagogue. (What were the original blast-absorbing outer wall and re-engineered building walls about?)

The case is so nonsensical that it has drawn accusations of anti-Semitism against government officials and the court. People are outraged — as I am — that a religious group wanting to build a house of worship can’t do it.

So did anti-Semitism drive this terrible decision?

Possibly. But more likely it’s a logical outgrowth of the safety-first Australian culture.

Australians who visit the United States are often astonished by our way of doing things. Guns are banned in Australia; Aussies are amazed to see gun shops here.

But they’re also astonished that there aren’t cameras on every highway and that drivers can get away with going faster than the speed limit and that people who jaywalk aren’t stopped and ticketed everywhere. An Australian being driven around an American town can point to all sorts of everyday activities that would get someone arrested Down Under.

The idea that someone can run a business in America without government permission or knowledge is disorienting to an Australian.

Australians justify their endless laws, licenses, regulations, taxes, fines, fees, restrictions with appeals to security, efficiency, convenience, revenue, cost, order, control — all the sorts of things you hear from people who consider liberty an adjunct.

This is where it leads:  You can’t build a house of worship for fear the terrorists will come.

Some may say the terrorists win in this situation. But the real winner is the government. The regulatory mindset, once established, becomes intoxicated with the word “No.”

Australia turned its back on freedom some time ago. Will we do the same?


Matt McDonald is Publisher and Editor-In-Chief of New Boston Post. See other articles by him here.