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AIJAC calls on Australians to stand with Dr. Jamal Rifi

Aug 25, 2021 | AIJAC

Dr Jamal Rifi: Humanitarian work ran afoul of anti-Israel campaigners
Dr Jamal Rifi: Humanitarian work ran afoul of anti-Israel campaigners

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) today said it stands with Australia’s Dr. Jamal Rifi, who was yesterday convicted in absentia by a Hezbollah-linked military court for the “crime” of “collaborating with the Israeli enemy” and sentenced to ten years imprisonment with hard labour. AIJAC also called on all Australians to likewise support Dr. Rifi, whose only crime was trying to assist sick Palestinian children.

Dr. Rifi’s conviction by a Lebanese military tribunal was related to his involvement with the non-political multinational, multi-faith charity, Project Rozana.

This charity, founded by Australian businessman Ron Finkel, helps critically ill Palestinian children and improves the training of Palestinian medical staff. The Palestinian Authority and Israel have expressed support for its efforts. A number of prominent Australians, including Dr. Rifi, serve on its Board of Directors.

In 2019 the Hezbollah-linked newspaper, Al Akhbar, published an article accusing Dr. Rifi of collaboration with “Zionists”. The writer of the story, Lea Azzi, insisted that the problem with Project Rozana is that “It is a medical and humanitarian project and under this umbrella they are normalising the relationship with Israel… So the enemy becomes a human.” Following the Al Akhbar story, a group of Lebanese lawyers reported Dr. Rifi to Lebanese authorities for visiting Israel (which he did as part of his work with Project Rozana), which is a crime in Lebanon.

AIJAC National Chairman Mark Leibler said, “Dr. Jamal Rifi’s only crime is seeking to help Palestinian children. AIJAC is proud to stand with him in the face of these malicious charges and we call on all Australians to do likewise.”

AIJAC Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein added, “Dr. Rifi is yet another victim of the terrorist Hezbollah, which has done so much to destroy Lebanon, economically, politically and socially. Their utter intolerance and violent hatred is truly laid bare by their attitude to Dr. Rifi’s work to help Palestinians in need of medical care, especially children.  Apparently, it is better that Palestinians do not get the healthcare they require than Israelis and Jews be treated as ‘human’.”

Jeremy Jones, AIJAC’s Director of International and Community Affairs, noted, “I have known Jamal Rifi for many years, through his amazing work promoting communal harmony in Australia and in leading interfaith and multicultural collaborative action in many areas. His charity, open-mindedness and passion for building strong, tolerant communities are the very antithesis of the theocratic thugs of Hezbollah. The charge against him, and the ‘conviction’, speak volumes about Hezbollah and those who collaborate with them.”

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