27 November 2013

Increased Antisemitism in Australia

THE number of antisemitic incidents reported in Australia in the past year is the second-highest level recorded.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry's annual report on anti-Semitism lists 657 reports of racist violence directed at individuals or Jewish facilities in the year to the end of September, a 21 per cent increase on last year.
The number of serious physical assaults was at its lowest since 2005, although the report did not cover the brutal attack on five members of a Jewish family in Sydney last month.
While the incidents included vandalism or attacks on facilities such as synagogues, most of the reports concerned threats and abuse rather than violence directed at people or property.
Antisemitic email reached its second-highest level on record, while the total number of threats from email, phone calls, posters, leaflets and mail was 60 per cent above last year's survey.
"Antisemitism remains at the fringes of Australian politics and society, and though there are exceptions, anti-Semitism is not generally part of the mainstream discourse," the report says. However, it warns of threats still faced by the Jewish community, saying "the fact remains that Jews in Australia worship, study and work under the protection of high fences, armed guards, and other security facilities".
"Condemning and countering antisemitism also need to be more actively pursued by the non-Jewish community."
The report also warns that reporting of incidents such as the "Prisoner X" case, the Melbourne-born Mossad agent Ben Zygier who committed suicide in an Israeli prison in 2010, can trigger "public expressions of anti-Semitic stereotypes and canards".
"A tragedy involving a single individual was used in some media to impugn the loyalty to Australia of Australian Jews as a group."Anti-Semitic stereotypes and false claims against Jews expressed in the mainstream media or by community leaders can portray anti-Semitism as legitimate and serves to encourage extremists to incite and act against individual Jews or Jewish communal facilities like synagogues or Jewish schools," it goes on to say.
ECAJ research officer Julie Nathan said antisemitism was not just a Jewish problem, but one affecting the whole of a society.
"The main measures to counter anti-Semitism include: political and civil society leaders publicly condemning anti-Semitism; public and school education on the evils and folly of racism, providing contemporary and historical examples," she said.
Ms Nathan also spoke of the need for legal recourse to tackle vilification and hate, citing sections of the Racial Discrimination Act the government has pledged to repeal