Anti-Semitic abuse Down Under rises 35% in past year

While the 312 reported cases of anti-Semitism in Australia are rise from the 231 cases reported last year, these statistics are markedly lower than the 962 incidents recorded in 2009.

November 11, 2014 17:13
2 minute read.

Demonstrators burn an Israeli national flag during an anti-Israel protest. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Anti-Semitism has increased more than a third in the past year, according to the Executive Council of Australian Jewry's (ECAJ) latest statistics.

The ECAJ is the officially elected organization representing the country's 110,000-plus Jews. 

Its annual anti-Semitism report released on Sunday notes that from October 2013 to September 2014, "There were 312 anti-Semitic incidents logged by Community Security Groups (CSGs), official Jewish state roof bodies, or the ECAJ."

The ECAJ attributed a 35 percent increase from the previous year's recorded anti-Semitic incidents to Operation Protective Edge and the "hostile media coverage" it generated.

The report states: "The Israel-Gaza war produced mass protests in Australia, and the world, condemning Israel. There is a correlation between the intensity of conflict involving Israel and the level of anti-Semitism recorded in the western world, of which Australia is part."

Among prominent cases of anti-Semitism scrutinized in the report are that of a Jewish family attacked in Sydney while walking home on Shabbat, graffiti incidents such as "Zionism scum" daubed on the walls of Perth's only Jewish day-school and the attack on a bus of Jewish schoolchildren by drunken teenagers in Sydney. The latter case was one of 75 incidents of verbal harassment and physical intimidation specified in the report.

A 27-year-old Perth Jewish victim of anti-Semitic abuse who wished to remain anonymous, told The Jerusalem Post that he believed recent racist comments from influential Australian politicians was a further cause for the rise of anti-Semitism.

"My concern is mainstream academics and politicians are using things like the Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement and making anti-Semitism mainstream," he said. 

"Politicians like Melissa Parke in WA (Western Australia) are telling the public that it is okay to come out and boycott Jewish businesses like Westfield, which is an Australian-owned and run business owned by Frank Lowe, a strong supporter of Israel. 

That is blatant anti-Semitism, boycotting a Jewish business that is run and created in Australia."

The 27-year-old further added that although he was not surprised by the rapid increase in anti-Semitic abuse Down Under, "Australia is probably one of the safest places for Jews in the world."

Jewish Community Council Western Australia Director of Public Affairs Steve Lieblich said the BDS campaign had been successful.

"The boycotters' campaign is making anti-Semitism fashionable. It's prevalent everywhere and is a real concern for the Australian Jewish community," he said.

The ECAJ report found that hate speech increasingly originates from the internet, noting a multitude of cases, in particular one that swept Australian media in 2010 where a Perth man was sentenced to three years in prison in WA under its Criminal Code for circulating anti-Semitic videos.

It states the man in question was "released from prison in January; he remains unrepentant, and gives voice to his anti-Semitism on his new website and in more videos."

The report also includes comments from Robert Goot, President of ECAJ, in reference to violence against Jews in Europe earlier this year. He stated such incidents are "the culmination of a pervasive culture of incitement and hatred towards the Jewish people and Israel, the State of the Jewish people." 

While the 312 reported cases of anti-Semitism in 2014 are a 35% rise from the 231 cases reported last year, these statistics are markedly lower than the 962 incidents recorded in 2009.  

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