The recent anti-Semitic attack in Sydney, Australia, left many Jews bewildered and shocked. Although there have always been acts of anti-Semitism in Australia, this particular act, in which five Australian Jews were wounded, was distinguished by the extreme violence and ferocity used.
Australia is generally a safe country and Friday’s attack does not alter that, but it did cause many Jews to stop and think for a moment. It is easy to get caught up in the daily routine of our lives, and forget that we are part of something much larger – a people that has experienced much tragedy in its history. It is easy to sometimes forget the many acts of anti-Semitism that occur around the world; but they do occur and all too frequently. At the same time as the attack in Sydney took place, an anti-Israel protest was raging in Denver, Colorado – a protest in which the protestors shouted slogans such as ‘long live the intifada.’ In other words, they were calling for continued violence against the Jews of Israel.
Unfortunately, we live in a time where there has been a massive surge in anti-Semitism around the world, from North America to South America to Europe and elsewhere, but the anti-Semitism of today is not usually as crude as the events that took place in Sydney. Instead, it is given ‘respectability’, by disguising itself in organizations such as the BDS campaign, that has been supported by a local Australian Greens council in Sydney, or the many UN Human Rights groups whose supposed objective is peace, but in reality whose goals are as crude as the perpetrators of Friday night’s attack. By attempting to delegitimize Israel, they serve to legitimize anti-Semitism, since we, the Jews, are after all Israel’s shareholders.
We should take the attacks that took place in Sydney personally, just as we should take the attacks that have occurred in France, or in Denver or at the United Nations personally. An attack against Israel is an attack against all Jews, and an attack against Jews is an attack against Israel.
Australia is a largely tolerant country and this attack was rightly deemed ‘unacceptable’ by the authorities. This tolerance, however, should not disguise the fact that there are elements in Australian society which are not quite as tolerant, such as the deputy leader of the Labor opposition, Tanya Plibersek, who is on record as calling Israel a ‘rogue’ state.
Friday's attack in Sydney serves as a reminder that although we may be a people dispersed across many nations, we are also part of a single Jewish nation.
Justin Amler is a South African born, Melbourne based writer who has lived in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia and is currently working in the Information Technology industry. He is an avid contributor to discussions on Israel, writing frequently to local newspapers. He has a keen interest in politics and creative writing.