Australia’s Jewish News editor Zeddy Lawrence, reflects upon tragic events in Sydney this week.
After the May attack at the Jewish Museum in Belgium, during which a jihadist shot dead four people, my newspaper ran a front page image of ISIS gunmen in Syria, with the headline “Destination Australia?”
It was only a matter of time.
This week, Australia was subject to its own nightmare scenario with the hostage crisis at the Lindt cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place.
As the day wore on, we watched, gripped, as the drama unfolded – first three people fleeing the building, then another two. And then we awoke to the news that it was all over. Police had stormed the cafe. The gunman, Man Haron Monis was dead, alongside two of his hostages, Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson.
As further details emerged, we learnt of Haron Monis’ past.
A self-styled Iranian sheikh, he was known to the authorities, charged as an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife and a number of counts of sexual assault.
He had also sent abusive letters to the families of Australian soldiers who had fallen in Afghanistan, among them Jewish serviceman Greg Sher.
How had this man got a gun?
Why was he free on bail?
The questions are still being asked.
Having not experienced terror before, Australia now bears the scars, the population is in shock and mourning, and we – along with the rest of the western world – know the threat is all too real.