Yes Virginia, there is Antisemitism in Australia…writes Jeremy Jones

January 24, 2013 by Jeremy Jones
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Modern Australia is less engaged in pondering whether Jews are legitimately “insiders” or “outsiders” than virtually any other Christian (or Muslim) majority state.

anti-Semitic banner

anti-Semitic banner

Each day, there are millions of social interactions between Jews and Australians who are not Jews, and they are unexceptional and unlikely to involve confrontation or conflict. Further, Australia does not have a past to which antisemites can comfortably look with nostalgia, which distinguishes it from many other countries.

Nevertheless, for the 12 month period ending September 30, 2012, 543 incidents of “racist violence” (using the definition adopted for more than 20 years by the Federal Government) against Jewish Australians were documented by Jewish organisations in Australia. These incidents included physical assaults, vandalism and harassment. This was a five percent increase over the previous 12 month period, and 42% above the average of the 22 years previously for which I have maintained a national database.

The reports testify that hundreds of Jewish individuals and organisations were targeted, some repeatedly, by persons seeking to intimidate or harass them. 
Amongst the most disturbing incidents of assault and property vandalism reported during the 12 month review period were smashing of synagogue windows; verbal and physical assaults of Jewish school students; Jewish people walking to and from synagogues being pelted with eggs or having other objects thrown at them from occupants of passing vehicles; and many instances of comments yelled at Jewish people in Australian streets such as “Hitler didn’t do his job properly”; “It’s a pity that the Germans didn’t burn the lot of you”; “We will get you Jews” and “We will burn you and all the Jews and all the synagogues in Sydney”.

Graffiti daubed on synagogues and other Jewish communal institutions has the potential to offend and intimidate a large number of people and also may constitute desecration of religious sites. During the period in review, incidents of graffiti were reported at a rate 27% above average and at the highest rate in six years. Amongst the graffiti incidents recorded in the past year were large swastikas and words “Jewish pig” sprayed on the outer fence and gate of a Jewish family’s home; “you jew c_ntz” daubed on an entrance sign to a Jewish school; “the best Jew is a dead Jew….” painted in a public shopping area; and a number of incidents of swastikas spray-painted on or opposite synagogues.

The ability of a person to remain anonymous and to send messages cheaply has made email the favoured means of communicating hate messages by Australian antisemites. During the period in review almost 50% of all incidents reported were offensive and intimidating emails. The receipt of abusive, threatening and other antisemitic email by individuals and communal offices was reported at a rate of over five times a week during the year in review. The total during this reporting period was ten percent higher than average for the previous ten years.

Examples of content included “Why not do the world a favour and go live with the pigs, it’s the only place creatures like Jews belong”; “do most jews get money from germany by telling lies about the holohoax?”; “everyone knows the kikes are the organ grinders”; “We’re waking up to greedy hooked nose jew bullshit”; “why have jews been expelled from every European country bar none why are jews the most despised race why do jews invent the holocaust”; “the jews are going to start another war, just like they started the 2nd ww”; “jews of Russia had invaded 13 countries”; “jews are an insidious cancer on the world and course (sic) most wars so the Rothschilds can make money”; and “only when the power of the jews is destroyed will there be world peace,” and an attack on this article’s author as “a PRIME UGLY Jew”.

Jeremy Jones

Jeremy Jones

As email to a large degree displaces other means of communication, reports of threats conveyed to the Jewish community through telephone calls or through the mail have been receding and are now being received at a rate of only 25% of the average over the previous 22 years. Hate mail was recorded at the third lowest ever rate and telephone calls including extreme antisemitic abuse was also at the third lowest rate. These included antisemitic death threats; antisemitic telephone calls made to Jewish institutions saying “burn in Hell”, and a number with anti-Jewish language mingled with obscenities.

In addition to the modes of harassment and intimidation identified above, the Jewish community received reports on a regular basis of the receipt of text messages, leaflets and other material placed in private letterboxes by hand, posters with anti-Jewish themes, stickers on buildings and telegraph poles and other similar forms of dissemination of anti-Jewish propaganda and vandalism. Reports of material in these categories during the documentation period were received at the sixth lowest rate ever. Examples of reports in this category included antisemitic signs at the “Occupy Sydney” and some anti-Israel rallies; a book defaced with antisemitic text left in the letterbox of a synagogue; antisemitic messages posted on websites of Jewish organisations; antisemitic leaflets, on “The New World Order”, handed out in a major city CBD and children from non-Jewish school throwing coins as an antisemitic taunt at a number of different groups of Jewish day school children.

While there is no clear nexus between the individual physical manifestations of antisemitism and other antisemitic activity, there is evidence there is also a body of Australians who would encourage, justify or rationalise anti-Jewish harassment.
Antisemitic individuals can be found amongst the political Left and Right, amongst Christians and Muslims, amongst Australian-born and immigrant, those with formal education and those without, amongst those with intense contact with Jews and amongst those who have never knowingly met or encountered a Jewish person.

Discussions on legitimate matters of public concern have occasionally been marred by injections of antisemitism, generally by a small minority of those taking part in them. These included planning decisions regarding Jewish community structures, which had the unfortunate tendency to degenerate from discussions of environmental concerns to attacks on the alleged un-Australianness of Jews, false claims regarding alleged Jewish belief or ignorant critiques of Judaism.

Anti-Jewish comments were recorded in the public arena not only in discussions of matters in which Jewish people had a particular interest but also on matters such as the change of Prime Minister by Australian Labor Party parliamentarians, US foreign policy, immigration legislation, intercommunal conflict not involving Jews in any identifiable manner, and even internal Christian schisms.

More partisan individuals in Australia involved in arguing against Israel’s real or perceived actions and in extreme circumstances its existence, employed double standards, demonisation and distortions to such a degree that it is not illegitimate to postulate that they were, to some extent, motivated by and/or fuelling antisemitsm. That said, the overwhelming majority of public comments on Israel’s actions did not cross the line from vigorous criticism to anti-Jewish racism.

Some of the antisemitism resulted from religious teaching or study of post-Judaic monotheisms. Some was more directly connected to a “racial” bigotry, for whom Jews either have innate qualities which would make them existential enemies or for whom Jews are allocated inferior status. Anti-Jewish prejudice considered normative in some other cultures has been brought to Australia by immigrants and can exist for many years within sub-cultures.

Antisemitism emanating from Islamic sources in Australia has been a topic of public discussion for a number of years. Particular concern has been expressed at the negative impact of material from a variety of overseas sources which has as its thesis an eternal enmity of Muslims towards Jews. A number of individuals in Australia in the period in review faced court on charges relating to involvement in planning or supporting terrorism. A theme identified across many of these cases was a belief that malevolent Jewish influences needed to be fought by all means available to achieve religious goals.

It is sad that, as more of the communication media moves to online platforms, there is more space available for malicious individuals, and while there is little indication that the number of antisemites is increasing, there appears to be no question but that the reach of their voices is now magnified.

The effect of antisemitism on the quality of life of individual members of the Australian Jewish community who have been targeted should never be minimised. The psychological impact on those affected directly by harassment and intimidation can be serious, particularly as many of the threats have been directed against individual Jewish Australians in their homes, including survivors of the Holocaust. Meanwhile, the quality of life of all who live in societies in which they occur is threatened and diminished.

Sunday, January 27 is Holocaust Memorial Day, commemorating the liberation in 1945 of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

Holocaust Memorial Day provides an opportunity for everyone to learn lessons from the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides and apply them to the present day to create a safer, better future.

Jeremy Jones is the Director of International & Community Affairs of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council. This article will be published in the February edition of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council Review.

 

Comments

12 Responses to “Yes Virginia, there is Antisemitism in Australia…writes Jeremy Jones”
  1. Tarek says:

    Dear Jeremy Jones,

    For using the picture from this article on my Facebook page to highlight Muslim anti-Semitism, Facebook suspended my account, suggesting I was an anti-Semite.

    After labouring for years to publish an award-winning book ‘The Jew is Not My Enemy”, Facebook delivered the ultimate insult by charging me with what I accuse my co-religionists of doing.

    Tarek
    @TarekFatah

  2. Shirlee says:

    An addendum to my comment to Larry.

    At this point in time, I can say no more except to tell you I have a very large complaint in hand at the moment in regards not only to antisemitism, but also racism. Other than the one I mentioned previously. It’s best I don’t mention with whom.

  3. Shirlee says:

    In reply to Larry.

    I can help in regards the low numbers of reported cases of antisemitism in the UK being an ex-pat.

    British Jews are very guarded in regards to reporting antisemitic incidents, as Britain has a long history of antisemitism and ‘Jew hatred’ generally, so people are loathe to bring these incidents out into the open. Even in regards to being Jewish, Jews aren’t as forthright as they are here admitting to it. My own husband is a classic case of that after growing up in a non-Jewish area and being physically assaulted on a regular basis as a child.

    Antisemitism here is increasing. I worked hard a few years back to get Yahoo Message Boards closed down for that very reason.

    I had cause yesterday to contact the Administrators of an on-line Australian Forum in regards to very antisemitic , racist and homophobic comments.

    I spend a good deal of time on pro-Palestinian blogs, Facebook pages and web sites, I am finding that ‘Jew hatred’ in general in this country is growing at an alarming rate within these groups. I find it more alarming that there appear to be a good many of the ‘enemy within’ amongst them.

    A couple a months ago I sent a good number of very antisemitic comments to the ECAJ from an Australian pro-Palestinian group. In saying that their very chats are in their BDS actions are antisemitic

  4. Larry says:

    There is something very strange going on here. In the UK, in 2011 there were ” 586 anti- Semitic incidents across the country in 2011, compared to 645 incidents in 2010.” (Jpost + UK Community Security Trust) .These are the latest figures.

    But this points to, I believe, a real definitional problem, because the Australian definition of ‘racist violence’ is very broad (see Australian Institute of Criminology – Racist violence) . Jones thus cites 543 recorded incidents in Australia in 2013.

    Now, what are we to believe, that Australia, with a population around a third that of the UK, with a perhaps, third the number of Jews, is having as many incidents as in the UK?

    There is no doubt that there are problems, but there are definitions, and there are numbers that are developed from definitions . On the issue of the problem of defining racist violence, see http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/previous%20series/vt/1-9/vt08.html.

    One of the problems is that it is also a perceptual issue.

    IN the UK, a much narrower concern is used to define anti-semitic incidents by the UK Community Security Trust. I don’t think we can consider the CST fools.

    The real usefulness and accuracy of Jones’ report has to be very carefully considered in light of this issue.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Larry
      when we don’t really know who you really are – see me name up thre, that’s who I really am – you can post any stuff, no matter how tendentious, prejudiced, why not, plain stupid.
      I went through the so called “definition” you attached on “Racial Violence”.
      The whole paragraph on the definition you are so keen on observing, something you see as …definitory and a strict guide line, is as limited as you to only “Racial Violence”. The terms of refference are very limited, badly sellected and, as it may be the case in the UK example ( who, by the way, seem to be worse than just “fools” ), do not cover lots of racist manifestations which, in the case of Jeremy Jones and AIJAC they are carefully and justly researched and reported. So there is the gap and aparent “urealistic” discrepancy.
      Otherwise Paul Winter is absolutely right.
      Jeremy is doing a fine job in reporting the vriety of acts of racism.
      That AIJAC would be expected to also come up with reccomendations as to what strategies would be suitable is something that may have some mittigating factors in favour of AIJAC. Could it be that AIJAC with its profile and functions have been frustrated JUST AS PAUL is by the very communal top structures and substance we have been saddled with for the past few DECADES !!! I , somehow, have the feeling that it might be the case.

  5. michael says:

    The Internet has become the best tool for anti- Semites and using Israel to demonize Jews [ or Hebrews] , an example of one of the most prolific and obsessed is Adrienne Jackson a regular contributor on most websites having a go at us Hebrews all the time

    ”How come Israel is not honouring their UN obligations by take some of the Syrian refugees like Jordon, Lebanon and Turkey do.

    Is Israel racist as they just don’t care about anyone who is not a Hebrew”.

    Posted by Adrian Jackson | January 27, 2013, 14:52
    Vex News.

  6. Paul Winter says:

    I was thinking about this article and realised that a few additional points should be made.

    Firstly, in support of my final point in my previous post, this comment from MEMRI: MEMRI South Asia Studies Project Director In Asian News Site On Visit To U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum: ‘Negative Ideas Coalesce Into Bigotries, Giving Birth To Ideologies That Justify The Killings Of Entire Communities’.

    Secondly, a whole stack of community leaders do their utmost to silence those who try to point out the obvious. They fear that pointing a finger at antisocial elements in our society would impact on the Jewish community (and they are worried that stating the obvious would demostrate that they are failures). Jewish leadership stayed silent when: jihadis attacked a police station; mohammedam packs raped Australian girls; Sheikh al-Hilali condemned rapes in (broken) English and later showed condoned the rapes in Arabic; the Lakemba mosque still employs al-Hilali who was caught on CCTV damaging the mosque and complaining to police of an attack; the disproportionate number of mohammedans involved in drugs, gun violence, car rebirthing; the mini-jihad that almost ended in murder when people in Cronulla tired of harrassment and violence; there is a blood-bath in Darfur; there is Sunni-Shia mutual slaughter in Iraq and Pakistanl: the Talibaan are murdering women and people less fanatically religious than they are; when Crean spoke approvingly of Sharia compliant banking in Australia. The list goes on and on.

    Any responsible leadership would have commented on such anti-social and anti-civilised behaviour. Instead our leadership involves itself in outreach and adopting a dignified stance which allows them entree to the halls of power, where they are listened to, patted on the head, and guided back to their kennels where they are permitted to bark down dissenters.

  7. Valery says:

    These days Antisemitism as a notion is omni-present and manifests itself in different manners anywhere, even in locations regarded as “unlikely”. It is totally surprising to read regarding the alleged un-Australianness of Jews while Australia is a country of immigrants from many regions of this planet. And Jewish people do not even seem to be so much exotic among them.

    Last, but not the least, the emergence of Antisemitism in Australia looks ugly in the light of notarious Hitler’s dismissal of the fate of the whole Australian nation. In particular, his diatribe pronounced in March 1945, which starts with the sentence “The descendants of the convicts in Australia should inspire in us nothing but a feeling of supreme indifference…”.

  8. Paul Winter says:

    Documenting antisemitism is important. It is equally important to do something about it and the only thing that I can see occurring is a very serious sweeping under the carpet of the problem. What for example is being done to get rid of Jake Lynch? What is being done about Leunig and the Australian’s cartoonist who reckons Jews weigh down our PM? What is being done about the various pro-“Palestinian” advocates pretending to be journalists who fan Jew hatred by spreading lies about Israeli wrong doing? What is being done about academics who abuse the intellectual freedom to arouse contempt and hate for Jews for what Israel is supposed to be doing the the Arabs? And most importantly, what is the self-perpeturating Jewish leadership doing about Jews who are proud to be ashamed to be Jews who provide a mantle of respectability to the self-styled humanists, who magnify or make up all sorts of Jewish wrongs and are blind to all other human right issues? Combating antisemitism is not an intellectual of even an accounting exercise. It must be acted upon vigorously not only for the sake of Jews, but because any society that tolerates blind prejudice, inevitably becomes intolerant toward others who deviate from the mainstream.

  9. Lynne Newington says:

    Makes you ashamed to be called Australians.

  10. gerard says:

    thank you for this painful insight into the disturbing level of anti-semitic attacks in present day australia and in particular those linked to holocaust denial-as a non jewish australian citizen I feel deep shame whenever this occurs.

  11. Joel says:

    Thank you Jeremy, you’ve enlightened us all with something that is a daily occurrence.

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