Antisemitic occurrences in Australia: record 59% increase

November 26, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The 12 month period ending 30 September 2018 has seen a 59% increase over the previous year in total antisemitic incidents in Australia involving threats or acts of violence, according to the annual report on Antisemitism in Australia released by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

The ECAJ, Jewish community roof bodies in each State, and other Jewish community groups logged a total of 366 antisemitic incidents during the period, including physical assaults, abuse and harassment, vandalism, graffiti, hate and threats communicated directly by email, letters, telephone calls, posters, stickers and leaflets. This compares to a total of 230 such incidents logged by the same sources over the preceding 12 month period, an overall increase of 136 incidents.

In the latest 12 month period, there were 156 attacks (assault, abuse, vandalism, and graffiti), accounting for 43% of the total number of incidents. There were 210 threats (email, letters, telephone, leaflets, posters and stickers), accounting for 57% of the total number of incidents. There is also much anecdotal evidence of incidents which go unreported.

Overall, between 2017 and 2018 the number of ‘attacks’ increased slightly (from 145 to 156), while the number of ‘threats’ increased by 147% (from 85 to 210). There was a marked increase in antisemitic abuse, vandalism, and threats via email, telephone, posters and stickers; a decrease in graffiti and threats by postal mail; while the number of physical assaults remained the same.

One group, Antipodean Resistance, which has an overtly neo-Nazi ideology, was responsible for 133 (36%) of the year’s total of 366 incidents, mostly consisting of placing posters, stickers, graffiti and murals, and one incident of vandalism, in public places. The total number of incidents attributable to Antipodean Resistance rose from 50 in the previous year, a rise of 166%. It thus accounted for 83 of the additional 136 incidents compared to the previous year. However, the activities of Antipodean Resistance do not account for the significant increase in recorded incidents of verbal abuse/harassment and vandalism.

The ECAJ’s Research Officer, Julie Nathan, who authored the report, said “The evidence points clearly to a sharp increase in the number of antisemitic incidents in Australia. Jews continue to be verbally abused and harassed around synagogues on a regular basis, as well as on the streets in suburban areas.”

“The most noticeable change over the last twelve months in Australia has been the significant increase in neo-Nazi activity, predominantly by Antipodean Resistance. Members of Antipodean Resistance have put up thousands of Nazi stickers and anti-Jewish, anti-homosexual and pro-Nazi posters, especially at universities, high schools, and other places visible to the public. Antipodean Resistance has explicitly promoted violence and murder, calling to “Legalise the execution of Jews”. It has also called for the killing of homosexuals. Its posters graphically depict and incite the use of firearms to shoot Jews and homosexuals in the head. Antipodean Resistance is a serious threat to the safety and security of Jews, homosexuals, non-white immigrants and ultimately to the entire community,” Nathan said.

Although Australia overall remains a stable, vibrant and tolerant democracy, where Jews face no official discrimination, and are free to observe their faith and traditions, antisemitism persists. There has been an increase in the activities of groups which are not only hostile towards Jews but actively and publicly express that hatred with words and threatened or actual violent acts. As a result, and by necessity, physical security remains a prime concern for the Jewish community.

Nathan said “The Jewish community is the only community within Australia whose places of worship, schools, communal organisations and community centres need, for security reasons, to operate under the protection of high fences, armed guards, metal detectors, CCTV cameras and the like. The necessity is recognised by Australia’s law enforcement agencies and arises from the entrenched and protean nature of antisemitism in western and Muslim culture, resulting in a high incidence of physical attacks against Jews and Jewish communal buildings over the last three decades, and continuing threats.”

As the political far right increasingly becomes emboldened and more active, and as far right groups publicly denigrate, demonise and incite violence against Jews, among others, it is incumbent upon political and other leaders to demonstrate that antisemitism, and all other forms of racism, are totally unacceptable in Australia, and to ensure that policies, laws and other measures are adopted and implemented in order to effectively counter their effects.

The report shows that online there has been a surge in calls for the killing of Jews, for the extermination of Jews worldwide, and of images of Jews being killed – through stabbing, shooting and hanging. Most of this incitement occurs on Gab, a Twitter-like platform, which is a haven for extremists and racists. Many racists moved over to Gab when Twitter closed their accounts in December 2017.

The ABC has been marked as downplaying antisemitism. The report states: “Within the mainstream of Australian society there are elements that either express or downplay antisemitism. Within the media, the ABC continues to stand out from other media outlets, as it permits antisemitic comments to remain online and unmoderated; and permits those who make antisemitic comments on Facebook to continue to comment without facing bans. The people who were making antisemitic comments several years ago are still freely commenting on the ABC, using the same names.”

The reports from time to time on the selling of Nazi merchandise were mentioned with the report stating: “The sale of Nazi memorabilia, although not illegal, continues in auctions and online. One egregious item was the production and sale of replica labels and canisters of Zyklon B, the blue crystal that turned into a gas upon exposure to the air. It was used in the gas chambers in Nazi death camps as one of the principal means by which the Nazi genocide against the Jewish people was carried out.

Within religious communities, notably Christian and Muslim, there has continued to be those individuals and groups who have over the years consistently either expressed antisemitic sentiment or have tolerated it on their social media pages. Some, like the Islamist group, Hizb ut-Tahrir, openly expresses hatred for Jews. Inter-faith dialogue remains an important means to promote mutual understanding and beneficial relationships.”

The report lists themes commonly found and expressed in anti-Jewish rhetoric in the period of review include:

  • Jews as Christ-killers; Jews and Judaism as anti-Christian and Satanic; Christianity as a Jewish plot to destroy the white race; killers of prophets; cursed by G-d; a cursed and damned people; the Chosen People concept mischaracterised, mocked and denied; the Talmud portrayed as evil; Jews as bloodthirsty for gentile blood; Jews as the enemy of humanity.
  • Jews characterised as barbaric, bloodthirsty, cruel, dirty, evil, greedy, hateful, malevolent, money-hungry, murderous, nefarious, racist, selfish, and stingy.
  • Jews as powerful, influential, and wealthy; Jews as having and exercising undue and disproportionate power and influence, usually against the interests of non-Jews, especially through the “Jewish Lobby” (aka Zionist or Israel lobby).
  • Jews portrayed as plotting and conspiring to control the world through an international Jewish conspiracy, with Jewish control of international finance, media, and politics; manipulating terrorism and wars; aimed at subjugating the non-Jewish population of the world; an existential threat to non-Jews, with enormous power and drive aimed at world domination
  • Jews as ‘the other’, not ‘real Australians’, foreigners, with dual loyalty.
  • Making false accusations of antisemitism especially in order to stifle criticism of Israel.
  • Holocaust denial, minimisation, and denigration; Jews deserve to be killed; Hitler was right to kill Jews; the Jews must be killed.
  • Israel as a racist and apartheid state; Jewish/Nazi analogy; Israel as a Nazi state; Jewish Star of David = Nazi swastika; Israeli Jews as terrorists; committing genocide against Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, and other non-Jews.

In summary, although Australia remains a stable, vibrant and tolerant democracy, where Jews face no official discrimination, and are free to observe their faith and traditions, antisemitism persists. There are segments of Australian society which are not only hostile towards Jews but actively and publicly express that hatred with words and threatened or actual violent acts. As a result, and by necessity, physical security remains a prime concern for the Jewish community.

As the political far right increasingly becomes emboldened and more active, and as far right groups publicly denigrate, demonise and incite violence against Jews, it is incumbent upon political and other leaders to demonstrate that antisemitism, and all forms of racism, is not acceptable in Australia, and to ensure that policies, laws and other measures are adopted and implemented in order to effectively counter antisemitism.

Under-Reporting of Antisemitic Incidents

It is known anecdotally that many incidents of antisemitism in Australia occur but are not formally reported either to appropriate Jewish authorities or to the police. Thus, the statistics in this Report represent only a proportion of incidents actually occurring in Australia. It is not known how many incidents are not reported. However, a survey in Britain in 2013 provides some information on the issue of under-reporting.

“A 2013 survey of Jewish experiences and perceptions of antisemitism in the EU found that 72 per cent of British Jews who had experienced antisemitic harassment over the previous five years had not reported it to the Police or to any other organisation; 57 per cent of British Jews who had experienced antisemitic violence or the threat of violence had not reported it; and 46 per cent of those who had suffered antisemitic vandalism to their home or car had not reported it.”

The ECAJ Report on Antisemitism in Australia 2016  documented 12 incidents of physical attack that were reported. Yet when Jews were surveyed, the results showed 43 physical attacks, almost 3.6 times as many as reported.

The full report is published on The Executive Council of Australian Jewry website.

 

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