Prominent Jewish-Australian business identity and tax lawyer Mark Leibler has revealed he is gravely concerned about the fate of his five Israel-based grandsons.
Mr Leibler, the senior partner at Melbourne law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler and national chairman of the Australia-Israel and Jewish Affairs Council told The Australian Financial Review: “I have five grandsons in Israel. One of my grandsons has been called up to a combat unit.”
He added that two of his other grandsons have been called into service as intelligence officers as Israel continues its retaliation against an assault by Palestinian terrorist group Hamas on Saturday.
“To say that I’m worried is a massive understatement. I find it almost impossible to come to grips with what has happened here,” Mr Leibler said.
Mr Leibler, whose Jewish parents fled Belgium for Australia in 1939, was named one of the world’s 50 most influential Jews by The Jerusalem Post and is a key powerbroker in Australia’s prosperous Jewish business community.
“I reject comparisons with the Holocaust but this, to me, is reminiscent of what occurred there,” he said.
“There have been more Jews killed, raped and pillaged in one day than has ever occurred since the Holocaust.”
The 2021 Census found approximately 100,000 Australians – or 0.4 per cent of the population – identify as Jewish, although their representation among the echelons of power is much higher.
Of the top 20 richest Australians in The Australian’s Richest 250 2023, seven – or 35 per cent – are Jewish.
Among those with strong ties to Israel are Anthony Pratt, executive chairman of Visy Industries, Harry Triguboff, founder and managing director of property developer Meriton, Westfield founder Frank Lowy and John Gandel, principal of the Gandel Group, which co-owns Chadstone Shopping Centre.
Jewish-Australians have a long history of success in Australian business and in particular, in the retail business.
Among them are Premier Investments chair Solomon Lew, whose brands include Smiggle, Peter Alexander, Just Jeans, Jay Jays, Portmans, Jacqui E and Dotti, as well as owning major stakes in Myer and Breville.
Other Aussie retail businesses with Jewish roots include Spotlight, Kogan, Catch, Sussan, Sportsgirl, Suzanne Grae, Chemist Warehouse and Afterpay
Paul Israel, the executive director of the Tel Aviv based Israel-Australia Chamber of Commerce said the outbreak of war has also resulted in the delay of three Israel-Australia Chamber of Commerce business delegations.
Melbourne-born Mr Israel is currently in Australia on a business trip.