A rabbi in Melbourne, the capital of the Australian state of Victoria, was called late at night to receive two antisemitic phone calls, leaving him traumatized and shocked, Australian antisemitism watchdog Anti Defamation Commission (ADC) reported on Tuesday.
“Hello Jewish scumbag, I’d just like to congratulate you on your new label, Captain Apartheid, because that’s how Jewish people are going to get named,” the first call began.
The caller made references to perceived Israeli apartheid practices, harshly criticizing Israel's treatment of Palestinians.
"That's how Israel is gonna get remembered from now until the end of time, for apartheid, because you are true f***ing c***s," the caller said. "You f***ing Jewish scumbag, motherf***er, go f*** yourself, shalom."
Ten minutes later, the rabbi got another call, the voicemail calling him "rabbi apartheid" and demanding he “dump that stupid religion that got made up a million years ago by pedophiles… You are going to die with it… Piss on you.”
The experience was very shocking for the rabbi, the grandson of a Holocaust survivor who lost many family members during World War II, according to the ADC.
“These voicemails spewed with hate were frightening, to say the least, and my wife and I are concerned about our personal safety,” the rabbi noted in a statement.
“I would never have imagined that people in Australia hate Jews so deeply. As a senior rabbi of the community, I found this very unsettling and distressing and hope that others aren’t exposed to this too.”
The references to apartheid and Israel come amid a recent report released by Amnesty International criticizing what it deemed as Israeli apartheid crimes towards Palestinians. Other organizations such as B'Tselem and Human Rights Watch have made similar accusations against the Jewish state, though these have been harshly criticized by Israel.
According to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, 'blaming individual Jews for the actions of the State of Israel, real or otherwise, is an act of antisemitism." The IHRA definition has, in recent months, been adopted by states and organizations worldwide.
The incident was highly criticized by ADC chairman Dr. Dvir Abramovich, who said he was "outraged" and that he understands "why many believe it is open season on the Jewish community and feel under siege."
"This chilling and violent outburst of unbridled hate, the latest in a spate of horrifying episodes that have spread like wildfire throughout our nation, is further evidence that racists are less inhibited about expressing their insidious bigotry openly, and this out-of-control problem is one we can’t ignore. These sickening messages, fusing age-old antisemitism with anti-Israel rhetoric, have not only traumatized the victim but will shake the affected community to the core and leave members scared and vulnerable," Abramovich said.
"It may be an uncomfortable truth for some, but antisemitism has taken root in Australia and keeps rearing its ugly head from all directions," he continued, noting that "it's no wonder that Jews are feeling less safe walking our streets.
"The number of reported incidents is on a scale I have not witnessed before in our nation, and I call on all political leaders to speak out loudly and clearly against this escalating issue so as to ensure that this stain on our society will never become acceptable."
Police in Victoria is currently investigating the incident.
The calls occurred amid an ongoing debate in Australia regarding the banning of Nazi symbols in public.