35% rise in antisemitism in Australia - report

The average number of reported antisemitic incidents each year from 2013 to 2020 was 280. As such, the number of reported incidents in 2021 is above that average by 167 incidents. 

 An Australian flag is seen hung in a tree burnt by bushfire on the property of farmer Jeff McCole in Buchan, Victoria, Australia (photo credit: REUTERS/ANDREW KELLY)
An Australian flag is seen hung in a tree burnt by bushfire on the property of farmer Jeff McCole in Buchan, Victoria, Australia
(photo credit: REUTERS/ANDREW KELLY)

Antisemitism in Australia rose by 35% in 2021, according to a recent report published by an Australian Jewish umbrella organization.

During the 12-month period from October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021, there were 447 antisemitic incidents logged across Australia by volunteer Community Security Groups (CSGs), official Jewish state roof bodies, and the Executive Council of American Jewry (ECAJ). The report was published first on the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism (CFCA) site monitoring antisemitism.

The total figure consists of 272 attacks (physical assault, verbal abuse, harassment, vandalism, graffiti) and 175 threats (by email, telephone, postal mail, posters, stickers).

In the previous 12-month period, ending September 30, 2020, these same bodies logged 331 incidents. Accordingly, there was an increase of 35% in the overall number of reported antisemitic incidents in Australia compared with the previous year.

Overall, from 2020 to 2021, there were substantial increases in the number of reported incidents in four categories: abuse and harassment (up 14% from 128 in 2020 to 147 in 2021), graffiti (up 152% from 42 to 106), stickers/posters (up 157% from 28 to 72), and a smaller increase in vandalism (up 10% from 10 to 11).

Nazi memorabilia found for sale in New South Wales, Australia. (credit: ANTI-DEFAMATION COMMISSION)Nazi memorabilia found for sale in New South Wales, Australia. (credit: ANTI-DEFAMATION COMMISSION)

Physical assaults remained at the same number. There were minimal decreases in the number of incidents of postal and telephone threats and a larger decrease in the number of email threats.

The average number of reported antisemitic incidents each year from 2013 to 2020 was 280. As such, the number of reported incidents in 2021 is above that average by 167 incidents.

There were two major events that appear to have contributed to the increase in antisemitic incidents over the last 12 months: the Israel-Hamas conflict, and the continuing pandemic. For example, 88 incidents were logged in May alone, during the war between Israel and Hamas, a marked increase in the number of incidents (typically between 22 and 46) from the other months.

Operation Guardian of the Walls in May evoked further acts of antisemitism. There was deliberate targeting of Jewish community facilities (especially synagogues), Jewish schools and Jewish businesses, as well as the deliberate targeting of private Jewish homes. Much of this targeting took the form of anti-Israel graffiti on synagogues, schools, and on the front fences of the homes of Jewish families.

Other graffiti, not on Jewish community nor residential property, was placed strategically so as to be seen by local Jews, placed next to or opposite Jewish schools, kosher shops, and the like. In addition, placards and banners at anti-Israel protests had images equating the Star of David with the swastika and other forms of Holocaust distortion.

Hizb ut-Tahrir, an extremist Muslim group, organized an anti-Israel protest in Lakemba, Sydney, in May, when several speakers chanted slogans vilifying and calling for violence against Jews. These included: “Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews! The army of Muhammad will return!”, “Destroy the Jews!”, “Oh Allah, give us the necks of the Jews!”, and “Oh Allah, give us the necks of those evildoers!”