An Update from the Christchurch Foundation Overseeing Money Donated Through the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

The Christchurch Foundation is making sound progress distributing money to meet the needs of the victims of the 2019 attack on the Muslim community and their families. This has been complicated by the pressures put on by the pandemic. These strains affect us all but more so those already weakened suffering as a result of the terror attacks. Thankfully the 5 million people in New Zealand have a geographical advantage being 3 hours fight away from our nearest neighbour and, by going Hard and Early the death toll is just 23.

The government and community have been active in a number of areas following the terrorist attack:

  1. Tighter gun controls have been out in place. This had made demi-automatic and assault style rifles illegal.
  2. The killer pleaded guilty and chose not to make a statement in court prior to sentencing. While this saved the victims being overloaded with repeat trauma, it denied them the opportunity to express their grief. He was sentenced to life without any prospect of parole.
  3. Funding has been provided to upgrade physical security at religious sites. While the Safer Communities funding was available to all, the only successful applications were made by the Jewish community (about 13 sites) and Muslim community (50+ Sites). We have been working with the Muslim community, giving advice on equipment and supplier choices and pricing. In addition we are sharing some training and other documentation.
  4. A Royal Commission sat reviewing all matters around the Christchurch Terror Attacks. We made a number of submissions to the commission including:
    1. Systemic failure in the Police and Security. For at least 10 years we had been warning the security areas about the vulnerability of the community (in this case Jewish rather than Muslim) to a lone wolf white supremist.
    2. The need for a whole of society overview to deal with racism, hate speech, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia. We are starting to make some slow progress.

The report was presented to government on the 5th and will be tabled in Parliament on 10th December. I had a confidential preview with the commissioners on Tuesday last week. While limited in what can be said the report is quite critical of government ownership of the problems let alone finding the multi-disciplined resolution.

Overall the Muslim and Jewish communities have never been closer; something good has flourished out of all that evil.

Thank you for all your support.

Authored by the New Zealand Jewish Council, working with the Christchurch Foundation to distribute money contributed by the Jewish Federation.

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