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Christian-Led Movement Against Hatred

by | Mon, Feb 12 2024

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A Christian-led group called Never Again Is Now is organising rallies around Australia in support of the country’s Jewish community. One of the founders is Jewish Anglican minister Mark Leach whose mother fled Germany before the Holocaust.

Right after the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, he was chased down a Sydney street by an anti-Israeli mob. He told Vision Radio the nation has never seen such hatred before:

‘On October the 9th, I heard that there was going to be this rally at Town Hall. And, you know, the blood hadn’t even dried in the kibbutzim around Gaza, they were still chasing down Hamas terrorists in the south of Israel. And there was a protest outside the Anglican cathedral where a bunch of people were chanting anti-Semitic, hate-filled slogans like From the River to the Sea, All of Palestine Shall Be Free, Gas the Jews, Kill the Jews. I heard all of those things, and I went along, despite the police warning the Jewish community to stay out of Sydney.”

“They warned me not to come, but I thought, I just need to do what any Australian would do, which is to stand up and be counted and say: No, not in my Australia, not in our Australia. Will we allow such hatred of the Jewish people to go unchallenged? So I went and waved my Israeli flag and got chased around the streets of Sydney. And God has used that to open incredible doors of cooperation and love with the Jewish community and the Christian community. Was it courageous? Not really, but I think it’s just the right thing to do. And I think Christians, you know, we just need to do the right thing.”

Immediately, after being chased by the anti-Jewish protestors, Pastor Leach put up a post on social media site X which attracted more than 1.2 million views. It read: “I was chased off the steps of the Cathedral. I ran, followed by a small mob of large angry Muslims hurling abuse at me. I hid behind a police van. The police dispersed the group who were looking for me. I have not been that scared in a long, long time. Why did I do it? Because Australia is surely the best country in the world! Our democracy, our free speech, our rule of law, our multi-cultural diversity and acceptance of each other, our freedom of religion, and our safety make us the envy of the world. And all of that was being eroded this afternoon.”

The post continued: “The Islamist/Jihadist strategy is to instil fear in non-Muslim populations so that they will either convert to Islam, or live in dhimmitude (a state of subservience to Muslims). And the fear in the Jewish population in Sydney is palpable. The Police Minister, to their shame, warned the Jews to stay away from the Town Hall or the Opera House because the police could not (or would not?) guarantee their safety. I took a tiny stand because we cannot, we must not, give in to such fear. We cannot fear upsetting Islamic sensibilities and so self-censor our speech and religion and policing.”

“We, as Jews, cannot give in to the fear that our Gentile Australian neighbours will turn against us if we ‘stir up trouble’ by speaking up for, and standing up for our rights as citizens. We must not cede one iota of our precious liberal, secular, democratic, pluralist state. Never Again means never again,” the post concluded. He also posted a video of a protestor with his face covered threatening to slit his throat.

Mark Leach explained to Vision Radio why he is so passionate about this cause: “My background is Jewish. My mother is a German Jew who fled the Holocaust in 1938. I’m also a Christian pastor, and I’m an Anglican pastor, so I’m a Jew, following another Jew. Christianity is, in my view, an offshoot of Judaism. And, we are first cousins — the Gentiles, the followers of Jesus grafted in to the people of Israel. My brother converted to Islam. So I’m very familiar with Islam. I know the kind of anti-Semitism that is present in these rallies.”

“Jew hatred is the most ancient of all hatreds. It’s not just religious Jews who are being persecuted. It’s anyone who’s Jewish. And when I talk to my friends in the Jewish community here in Sydney, everybody who’s Jewish feels alone, feels threatened, feels unsafe for the first time in Australia. We’ve been unbelievably blessed in Australia. We haven’t experienced, much at all in the way of domestic terrorism. We’ve not experienced much at all in the way of anti-Semitism. Australia has always been a safe, inclusive, wonderful place, for Jewish people. And now, for the first time, that is not the case.”

“It’s a terrible thing. I feel it personally. There’ve been people in our church who understandably, after the stand I took, were too scared to come to church because of fears of reprisals against me as a Jewish pastor, because of the stand I took. And that story is multiplied 40,000 times in Sydney, which is the number of Jewish folk here and, and 100,000 times across the country, which is the total Jewish population.”

Pastor Leach explained to Vision Radio how the Never Again Is Now movement began. Never Again is based on a phrase coined at the end of the World War II, reminding the world that the Holocaust must never be repeated.

“There were four of us — two Gentiles, one Hebrew Jewish pastor, and the president of the Great Synagogue in Sydney, David Lewis, who had been at this large rally outside 10 Downing Street [UK PM’s residence in London], organised by a group called Christians Against anti-Semitism. David said: We need this in Sydney We need this in Australia. The Christians need to stand up and stand with the Jewish folk. And I thought this was exactly right.”

“So we have been working since December to form Never Again Is Now, to mobilise Christian people as an act of love for our Jewish friends, to stand up and say: You’re not alone and We’re with you, and We won’t allow anti-Semitism here. People say to me: Oh, but what about the Palestinians? What about the Muslims? What about what’s happening in Gaza? What about what the IDF is doing? You know, those are all really important questions. And my answer is we cannot solve the problems of the Middle East. But we can make sure that Australia remains a place that is free of anti-Semitism.”

“We’re trying to focus on building an Australia that continues to be a place of justice, of freedom, of security and of love for all people, irrespective of ethnicity and culture, and, religion and sexuality. We’re a tolerant, inclusive society. So, that’s what Never Again is all about. And we’re kicking this off with an event here in Sydney. We’re hoping to get somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 people out on Sunday afternoon (February 18).  I just want to invite everyone who cares about the kind of country we live in to come out and join us, to stand with our Jewish friends and to stand for the Australia that we all love and we want to see flourish.”

In a statement to the Daily Declaration, the Never Again Is Now movement said: “Over the past four months, there has been a noticeable rise in support for Israel from individuals and churches around the world. While it is disheartening to witness the silence and apathy towards Israel, we are seeing a growing support from churches, leaders, and individuals worldwide. They recognise a dangerous pattern emerging, a pattern we saw leading to the Holocaust, repeating itself in this generation, and are motivated to take a stand against anti-Semitism and support the Jewish nation.”

Mark Leach explained to Vision Radio: Now, we can’t tell you the location [of the Sydney rally] because we’ll release that the day before. But you can go to our website and all the information you need is there including registration. Could I just ask Vision listeners to pray for this movement, to pray for our country, to pray for our Jewish people?”

Organisers insist that registration is vital for Sunday’s rally to help with crowd management. It will be followed by one in Adelaide on March 3 with others planned for Melbourne, Canberra, Perth, Hobart and Brisbane.

To listen to the full interview with Pastor Mark Leach, click on the link below: