Australia faces alarming 30% surge in anti-Semitism

Incidents of verbal abuse, harassment and intimidation in Australia rose 30% compared to 2018.

By World Israel News Staff

Anti-Semitism rose sharply in Australia during 2019, according to a statement by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ).

According to the statement, there were 368 recorded anti-Semitic incidents in Australia from the beginning of the year until the end of September. Included in the number are physical assaults, abuse and harassment, vandalism, graffiti, hate and threats communicated directly by email, letters, telephone calls, posters, stickers and leaflets.

Incidents of verbal abuse, harassment and intimidation in Australia rose 30 percent compared to 2018.

“Jews continued to be verbally abused and harassed around synagogues on a regular basis, especially over the Jewish Sabbath, and on other Jewish holy days and festivals. These are periods when many Jews are congregating at, and walking to or from, synagogue, providing anti-Semites with an easy target,” said Julie Nathan, the ECAJ’s Research Director on anti-Semitism.

The statement also suggested that the rise in anti-Semitic incidents was paralleled by a proliferation of anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi discourse online, especially on online sites used by far-right, white supremacist, neo-Nazi, and other racist groups.

“A common theme was the ‘white replacement’ theory which blames the Jews for the supposed demise and destruction of the European races, culture and civilization, including in Australia,” Nathan said.

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“This is the ideology embraced by the perpetrators of mass shootings of people at prayer in synagogues in Pittsburgh and San Diego,” she added.

The statement also notes that although Australia overall remains a stable, vibrant and tolerant democracy, where Jews face no official discrimination, and are free to observe their faith and traditions, unofficial anti-Semitism is becoming more serious, and there have been worrying signs that it is creeping into mainstream institutions.

On Nov. 24, four people dressed in Nazi uniforms entered a supermarket near Melbourne, reported The Sydney Morning Herald at the time.

A month prior, eight swastikas were painted on Melbourne’s iconic Nylex building, and during the country’s federal election Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s campaign posters were defiled with Nazi symbols, the report added.

In October, a 12-year-old Jewish student was reportedly forced to kneel down and kiss the shoes of a Muslim classmate, while a five-year-old boy was allegedly called a “Jewish cockroach” and repeatedly hounded in the school toilets by his young classmates, reported Melbourne’s The Age at the time.