Thirty-two countries and 39 organizations from around the world sent representatives to the eight-day conference.
There were high expectations from the conference, but they quickly turned out to be in vain. The United States, the country which called the meeting, agreed to take in 30,000 Jews within three years. Britain was ready to take in 20,000 within three years (including children and youth as part of the Kindertransport operation), but as long as the conference did not raise the issue called the Land of Israel (Palestine) – because the White Paper it issued only permitted restricted entry into its mandate area. Canada failed to respond at all, and a number of South American countries agreed to take in a certain amount of Jews, as long as they converted to Christianity first.
Only one country, the smallest and poorest, the Dominican Republic, agreed to take in 100,000 Jews, and its dictator, Rafael Trujillo, provided large territories from his private property for the operation.
I left Australia for last, because it was exceptional during the conference, to say the least. Its representatives did declare that the country would consider taking in 15,000 Jews within three years, but the head of the delegation, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas W. White, explained that "as we have no real racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one”.
Today there are large Jewish communities in Australia's different cities, and quite a few Israelis as well. Even in the 1930s, contrary to White's statement, many Jews were living in Australia. For example, in the western city of Perth, where Jews arrived in the 1920s from the Land of Israel after fleeing riots in Rishon Lezion and Be'er Tuvia.
The recent attack on a group of Jews in Sydney is just a continuation of a series of anti-Semitic incidents taking place for many years now in "the continent down under." A statistical report released in January by Jeremy Jones, the former president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, points to 543 anti-Semitic incidents from October 2011 to September 2012 – a 5% increase from the same period last year and a 42% increase from 20 years ago.
The incidents include shattering synagogue windows, physical assaults on Jewish students, derogatory exclamations against Jews on the streets and hurling different objects on synagogue goers. The leaders of the Jewish communities in Australia are not particularly enthusiastic about publishing the figures and putting them on the public agenda for their own reasons, as if one can combat this troubling phenomenon and make it disappear by keeping quiet The recent incident in Sydney proves that this policy may be completely wrong.
In 1938, Thomas White didn't want to "import" Jews, allegedly so as not to give rise to anti-Semitism in his country. Many things seem to have changed since then in the land of kangaroos and koalas, and it's quite possible that these changes stem, among other things, from the import of hundreds of thousands of Muslims since the 1980s, including thousands of Palestinians.