Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s plans to change the Racial Discrimination Act have been met with criticisms from various groups. Holocaust Survivor Moshe Fiszman pleads the country’s leader to abandon his proposed changes, saying that he would be taking away their freedom in doing so.
The Government has made known of its plans to remove key sections of the RDA, including Section 18C, which makes it unlawful to do an act that is “reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate, or intimidate another person or a group of people” based on their racial or ethnic backgrounds.
The Opposition and Greens have opposed the proposal, saying that the changes will just make it legal for bigotry to rule the country.
Mr Abbott claimed that the changes are necessary to remove the restrictions on “free speech,” and that they also include strong prohibitions on racial vilification.
Mr Fiszman, a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor who spent the Second World War in Nazi concentration camps, begged to differ.
He penned an open letter to the PM, asking him to abandon his plans to change the RDA.
“You might think you are increasing freedom, but let me assure you that you will be taking away the freedom of communities such as mine. The freedom to live without hatred and without lies being told about us,” he wrote.
“That is why every single ethnic community is against this change. Some 39 communities have protested against it. Australia is a beautiful country because, like the United States, we are all migrants – not minorities. But if this law gets up, we will be made to feel like minorities.
“You might think you are increasing freedom, but this change will hurt disadvantages, underprivileged groups, like the Aborigines who regularly visit the Jewish Holocaust Museum.”
He continued, “I came to this country because it was the furthest away from Europe I could get. Also, I had four years behind bars as a refugee after the war because nobody wanted me, so I had plenty of time to check out what Australia was made of. I researched its constitution and so forth, and I liked it.
“We are quite happy with the freedom we have got at the moment. There is nothing wrong with it. For God’s sake, you can do whatever you like in this country. We are even freer than in the United States.
“What do they want to change this law for? If you start playing around with it, where will it end up? Who is it giving the freedom to? They want the right-wing loonies to have a free rein so they can write and say whatever they like and get away with it scot-free. Holocaust deniers like the Adelaide Institute.”
Mr Fiszman was the only member of his family to survive after suffering in various Nazi concentration camps, including the Auschwitz-Birkenau and Dachau.
“This is my opinion as a survivor, the opinion of a man who went through living hell for five-and-a-half years, on death row for 24 hours a day. I am dead against it. Don’t let them touch the freedom of the people in the country.
“At the moment I am an Australian. I am not defined as being a Jew or a Catholic or a Protestant. But if these laws go through, we will end up as members of minority groups. Then God help us.”
He concluded his letter with: “I love this country. There is no other country in the world as free as ours. Lease don’t change the law, Mr Abbott.”
Mr Fiszman’s letter has been obtained by The New Daily.