October: Anti-Israel activity in Australia

November 8, 2013 by  
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A report from The Executive Council of Australian Jewry reveals there has been a decline in anti-Israel protests in Australia.

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There were no known anti-Israel protests in Australia in the months of September and October 2013. There was a poorly attended media conference in opposition to Shurat HaDin’s legal action against a pro- BDS academic (see below).

The absence of any other public anti-Israel activity in these months constitutes a major success for the Australian Jewish community.

Since the ECAJ commenced monitoring anti-Israel activity in Australia following the commencement of the BDS campaign in Australia in mid-2010, there has been at least one anti-Israel protest every month (at an average of 6.5 protests per month in 2012), other than during the holiday period in January 2013.

In contrast to the decline in anti-Israel activity, the Australian Jewish community was deeply affected by a serious and sustained physical attack on a Jewish family returning from a Shabbat dinner in Sydney (details below). It was widely reported that two of the alleged perpetrators of the attack were on bail on prior charges that included assaulting police. There is no evidence at all to suggest that the attack was motivated by anti-Israel feeling. The alleged perpetrators have no known affiliations with anti-Israel or anti-Jewish groups. Nevertheless, this incident has been included in this report because of its impact on the Jewish community and Australian society, and in light of the wide range of political and civil society leaders who strongly condemned the attack.

Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Centre) legal action against pro-BDS academic

Shurat HaDin has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against a pro-BDS academic from Sydney University, Jake Lynch. Lynch is Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS). Shurat HaDin claims that Lynch’s refusal to work with Israeli academics contravenes Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act.

The proceedings have been characterised as a “test case” for BDS in Australia.

On Wednesday, 30 October, a colleague of Lynch’s from Sydney Uni, Stuart Rees, himself an ardent supporter of BDS, called a media conference along with a Jewish pro-BDS academic from the University of New South Wales, Peter Slezak, to support Lynch and mobilise popular opposition to Shurat HaDin’s legal action.

The media conference attracted no more than 12 activist supporters and 2 members of the press – one from a far-left on-line publication and the other a respected journalist who has published a series of pieces critical of BDS in The Australian newspaper. Nevertheless more than 1,800 people have now signed a petition in support of CPACS, a sign that Shurat Hadin’s action might have the unintended consequence of reviving a declining BDS movement in Australia.

The ECAJ has released a media statement on its position regarding Shurat HaDin’s decision to take legal action against a pro-BDS academic, which has been widely quoted in Australia.

Lecture series by Richard Falk and Jeff Halper

As detailed in last month’s report, the Australian National University (a leading Australian university based in Canberra) hosted a two-day conference in September examining alleged Israeli abrogation of Palestinian “economic, social and cultural rights,” and featuring renowned anti-Israel figures Richard Falk, Jeff Halper and Hanan Ashrawi.

Following the conference, Falk and Halper remained in Australia for separate lecture series.

Halper addressed the National Palestine Advocacy Solidarity Gathering in Canberra, hosted by the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) on 13 September 2013 and gave public lectures at prestigious Australian universities, University of New South Wales and the University of Melbourne. Halper also held private meetings in the Victorian state parliament and with former Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser.

APAN posted a photo of Halper with representatives of World Vision on their Facebook page praising World Vision for ensuring that “Palestinian human rights are on the agenda.” It is not known whether World Vision financially contributed to Halper’s tour.

Richard Falk also gave a number of public lectures, most notably on the topic of “human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” which was broadcast on the ABC (state-owned but editorially independent network) on 15 October as part of the “Big Ideas” series. The lecture and subsequent discussion were moderated by Prof. Stuart Rees of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and Director of the Sydney Peace Foundation (referred to above).

The ECAJ has made a complaint to the ABC in respect of an antisemitic question put to Falk, which was not moderated by Rees or edited by the ABC before publication. The speaker, a far-right activist known to the ECAJ, who identified himself as “anti-Zionist, anti-bankster activist”, first expressed his strong support for the statement, “Judaism is a religion of racism, hate, homicide and ethnic cleansing” and then asked Falk to support a man convicted of racial vilification for filming and disseminating footage of himself verbally harassing a Jewish man in Perth.

Grand Mufti calls for Labor Party to avoid selecting pro-Israel candidates

In a statement ostensibly leaked by the Grand Mufti’s spokesman, who is of Kuwaiti-Palestinian origin, the Labor Party, which is now in Federal opposition following the heavy defeat of Kevin Rudd in September 2013, was warned that selecting a pro-Israel candidate to fill a Senate vacancy would result in a collapse of the traditionally pro-Labor Muslim vote at the next election.

The Senate position was made vacant by the resignation of former Foreign Minister Bob Carr, who during the Federal election campaign publicly stated that “all Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.”

Several outspoken pro-Israel candidates were initially touted to replace Carr but were ultimately overlooked or withdrew. However, it is widely believed that the decision to select Deborah O’Neil (who has not publicly expressed views on Israel) was entirely unconnected with the Grand Mufti’s statement.

ECAJ research distributed to Labor members of parliament showed that the Muslim vote had no discernible bearing on the election outcome and the leaked email was a likely a transparent attempt to enlarge the lobbying influence of the divided Muslim community.

The matter was greeted with a series of editorials and news stories criticising the Grand Mufti and calling for strong bilateral support of Israel, including from the Australian Financial Review which released an editorial titled, “Labor should support Israel.”

Antisemitic attack in Sydney

Six members of the Jewish community, including a man and woman in their sixties, were subjected to a prolonged verbal and physical assault while walking home from a Shabbat dinner in the suburb of Bondi on 26 October 2013. They were set upon by eight youths who hurled antisemitic abuse in the most serious incident of spontaneous antisemitic violence in Australia in living memory.

Five people were injured suffering respectively bleeding on the brain, a fractured cheekbone, broken nose, concussion, lacerations and bruising.
The ECAJ released the following statement following the attack – ECAJ Media Release 26 October 2013 The attack was widely reported in the mainstream media and statements unequivocally condemning the attack were made by the leaders of the New South Wales Government and the Opposition, the Australian Greens Party, the Australian Race Discrimination Commissioner and by various prominent broadcasters and NGOs.

Several newspapers also ran editorials suggesting that the vitriol of anti-Israel rhetoric, particularly among the far left, was contributing to antisemitism in Australian society.

Antisemitic incident at University of New South Wales

Also on 26 October 2013, a Jewish student at the University of New South Wales was subjected to antisemitic taunting while campaigning during student elections.
The student, a former president of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students at the university, was surrounded by two students who made “Heil Hitler” salutes while singing the song, “Spring-time for Hitler” from the Mel Brook’s musical, “The Producers”.

The incident, which happened only hours before the brutal attack on a family returning from Shabbat dinner (see above), prompted The Australian newspaper to run a front-page article titled, “To Jewish leaders – incidents prove you can never stop fighting antisemitism.” The article examined antisemitism in Australian society and cited the concerns of several communal leaders. [full text of article available on ECAJ Facebook page, post dated October 30)



6 Responses to “October: Anti-Israel activity in Australia”
  1. ben eleijah says:

    The Shurat case will certainly return the spotlight to Israel and the occupation.

  2. Sam says:

    What is this garbage? That’s right its called the ECAJ.

    Talk about being on another planet. There is a huge increase in anti-semitic attacks and they oppose shurat hadin

    About time this outfit was done away with, what a waste of money.

  3. Eleonora says:

    I definately have to stop reading everything. Last week I commented that,”if” the Bondi attack was anti-semitic or Muslim attack it should be reported as such and not swept under the carpet as is always the case. I was told my comment would not be published as there was no proof that it was, yet again, I have read several articles on this website that say the Bondi attack was anti-semitic. Why don’t you publish the offenders name??? Journalists are supposed to write the truth and facts, please do so and editors, you too have a responability not cover up the facts and truth. Very frustrating to say the least.

    • admin says:

      The matter is before the courts and the three charged have not yet been named by the courts. Even if we knew the names we would be outside the law were we to publush them before the court announces them

    • Sam says:

      None can be named.

      Two are “children” in other words under 18, like those those innocent rock throwing children in Judaea and Samaria.

      The name of the third cannot be named until he has been arraigned.

      Yes it was an antisemitic act. The information coming out is that they were Pacific Islanders but no one knows for sure. However we can’t accuse people without knowing the truth of the matter.

      Imagine if the shoe was on the other foot.

  4. Zvi Saita says:

    If this is how ECAJ design their communal leadership, they need a palestinian to teach them the ropes.
    The “decrease” in antiSemitic attacks is a furphy. What ECAJ is reporting is a list of MAJOR well established insititutions, some specilised in anti Jewish anti Zionist PR, such as the two palestinian orgs.NPASG in Canberra and APAN, to which one can easily, with confidence, associate World Vision, the ABC ostensive suport for Falk, then we have a huge list of Islamic asociatiation, the Grand Mufti etc. all quite permanently employed to counter- act what poor little EACJ is supposed to do.
    Th laughable 6.5 events per month with a total “lapse” for the past 2 months in public antisemitica manifestations is the expression of a very poor standard of assessment ECAJ have employed.
    The vicious attack in Bindi Beach is characterised as not being associated with any known anti Jewish/ Zionist association. Who gives a stuff, ECAJ !!!
    Were the injuries less serious, less painful on that account ?!! What a way of thinking – that’s if “thinking” has anything to do with it.
    This attack shows yoy how prevalent anti Jewish sentiments are aming the general populace, it shows that there is no need for formal associations to exist in order to associate “free agents” in one singular action: hit the bloody Jews !!! something it obvioulsy has escaped ECAJ’s frame of mind.
    ECAJ must come to earth and smell the whiff of REALITY.
    ECAJ also forgit to mention that Shurat HaDin’s legal action was oposed by…………..ECAJ, thus giving fantastic moral support to all those listed above as antisemitic and then some, …. a lot more !!!
    So I would suggest that we list ECAJ as causing to provide moral support to a cause they are expected to combat.
    APAN and the rest must be having the greatest laugh.

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