Anti-Semitism Analysis Reanalysed

December 4, 2011 by Jessica Taft
Read on for article

A recent study of antisemitic activity in Australia has shown that antisemitism may not be as prevalent or increasing as sharply as once thought…writes Jessica Taft.

Jessica Taft

Antisemitism has been an issue of major concern for the Jewish communities of Australia. Concern with extremist antisemitic groups and individuals led Australian Jewish community organisations to invest significant resources in monitoring both the media and reported incidents. One such resource has been the work of Jeremy Jones AM, past president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, who for the past twenty years has collected, classified and recorded incidents of antisemitic violence, vandalism and verbal abuse that are reported to him by individuals and Jewish organisations.

Based on their interpretation of incident levels in Jeremy Jones’ reports and data from other Jewish community organisations, the Jewish media has given an impression that in recent years, such as 2000 to 2002 and 2006 to 2009, and now in 2011, there were sharp and worrying rises in the level of antisemitic activity in Australia. However, close analysis of Jones’ data on reported incidents reveals that whilst some forms of antisemitism have increased, this is not true across all categories. Presenting antisemitic incidents as aggregated annual tallies, as a basis for measuring trends in antisemitism, can be misleading as it fails to take account of the relative significance of the different categories.

The Jones incident data is catalogued using seven categories, following the approach adopted by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in 1991. The categories are violence, harassment, threatening telephone calls, hate mail, graffiti, hate email, and other (miscellaneous).  In four of these categories – graffiti, telephone threats, mail threats and miscellaneous – there has been no rise in incidents between 1990-2010.

Increase of incidents is found in three categories: harassment, violence and particularly email. The total number of violent incidents has thankfully been small, the increase in harassment a worrying development.

To give an indication of scale, the twelve months with the highest number of incidents (October 2008 – September 2009) are considered. In that twelve month period there were 27 incidents of violence, 149 incidents of harassment and 643 incidents of hate email. In our view it is problematic to simply add incidents across these categories, so that what may be a premeditated and very serious incident of violence is counted as the equivalent of one hate email (which may be copied to ten different organisations and reported ten times). Close examination of the data shows that the spike in the overall number of antisemitic incidents which occurred between 2006-2009 is largely explained by the proliferation of hate email, and which may, as Jones has noted, be attributed to the repeated online activity of a small number of extremists.

Jessica Taft is a lawyer and currently a PhD candidate at Monash University, in Melbourne, Australia

Comments

3 Responses to “Anti-Semitism Analysis Reanalysed”
  1. Michael Burd says:

    I guess the Australian Jewish community is only spending Tens of Millions of dollars each year securing their constituents , days schools , community Centers and visiting Jewish/Israeli speakers because of the hell of it……

  2. Otto Waldmann says:

    Intellectually attractive, thought provoking, original, challenging and, essentially, so flawed and misleading that the “we” authors ought to revisit fundamentals of sociological measurements before more of the same inflate the “wes'” embarassement.
    As, for example given, increases in violent attacks are accounted for, “adjacent” forms of anti Semitism evolve as increasingly relevant. Violence , as the ultimate manifestation, inhabits intent which is created by sub forms, the ones Ms Taft regards as less significant. Technically effective dissemination through electronic media is chiefly responsible not just for the specific phenomenon we, Jews, are worried about, but, seemingly for some more Earth shaking events.

  3. ben says:

    Jews have never been the subject of systematic violence in Australia. That said, there are a small number of far right groups which seek to incite anti-semitism, but the major voices of hatred and violence in politics, media and religion are directed against Muslims, Africans and Asians.

Speak Your Mind

Comments received without a full name will not be considered
Email addresses are NEVER published! All comments are moderated. J-Wire will publish considered comments by people who provide a real name and email address. Comments that are abusive, rude, defamatory or which contain offensive language will not be published

    Rules on posting comments