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Thursday, 26 October 2006

Attack on an Ultra Orthodox Jew in Australia: Update

Two men accused of an alleged antisemitic attack on an Orthodox Jew earlier this month have confessed their part in the incident, the AJN has learned. The men, who are both players with Ocean Grove Football Club, Victoria, last week told club officials they participated in the attack on Menachem Vorchheimer after an end-of-season trip to Caulfield Racecourse on October 14.

According to club president Michael Vines, one of the men, who was one of 20 passengers on a hired minibus, told officials he shouted antisemitic abuse, including "F**king Jews" and "Go the Nazis", at Vorchheimer, 33, as he walked to Yeshivah synagogue with two of his children for Simchat Torah festivities.The other man admitted to leaning out the bus window and grabbing Vorchheimer's hat and kippa after he had approached the bus at the corner of Balaclava Road and Hotham Street to ask the driver about the identity of the passengers.

Vines told the AJN that two other players, who physically restrained Vorchheimer, had also been identified in the course of the club's investigation. The matter is also the subject of an extensive police investigation involving up to 100 people, including more than 50 witnesses.

But a third man, who allegedly struck Vorchheimer across the eye, is yet to be identified.
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Vines, who has apologised to Vorchheimer on behalf of the club, said he was disappointed that a meeting of players and club officials last Friday night failed to identify the perpetrator of the alleged assault, despite there being a short-list of "six possible suspects".

"At the end of the day, we would much rather he came forward of his own accord," Vines said.

He added that the first two players' confessions would be taken into account when the club determines what disciplinary action it will take. The AJN also understands that one of the players has prepared a written apology to Vorchheimer, which will be delivered at the conclusion of the police investigation.

Police are also conducting an internal investigation into the involvement of the bus driver, who police confirmed last week to be an off-duty officer.

Last week, a planned trip by around eight members of the football club to the Jewish Holocaust Museum and Research Centre was postponed after police feared it could hamper their investigation.

Holocaust Centre acting director Bernard Korbman said he would have preferred the whole team visits the centre.

"I don't want to know who the perpetrators were ... this is meant to be an educational exercise, not a punitive one."

Last week, leaders from Victoria's Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities issued a statement condemning the attack.

The statement, which was jointly authored by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the Victorian Council of Churches and the Islamic Council of Victoria, said the incident threatened Australia's reputation as a tolerant, diverse society.

"An attack like this is an assault on every Australian and besmirches that hard-won reputation," it stated.

The statement also called for greater player education, a call echoed by AFL chief Andrew Demetriou last Friday.

The incident is the fifth physical assault on a Victorian Jew this year. More than 140 incidents - a national record - were reported in July, at the height of Israel's war with Hezbollah. There has never been a conviction for an antisemitic incident in Victoria.

BB: Elements of the Ocean Grove Football Club should be ashamed.Not just for the attack, but for the way they have acted and refused to identify the parties involved. The Clubs Coach's actions seem questionable in appearing to under state what happened to say the least!

AJN: Two Confess Involvement
AJN: Simchat Torah turns sour
The Age: 'Nazi' hate attack probe
BB: Simchat Torah turns sour for Australian Assault victim

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Technorati: * Anti Semitism *Ultra-Orthodox Assault * Melbourne Jew Assaluted * Jew assaulted * Melbourne Jew attacked * Menachem Vorchheimer * minibus and Assault * Hotham Street * Carlisle Street * Balaclava Road * Melbourne Assault * Melbourne Hate Crime * Hate Crime * Australia Anti Semitism * Melbourne and anti semitismJewish * Australia * Israel * BagelBlogger * Bagel Blogger