The attack occurred just over a week after the introduction of legislation to ban the public display of the Nazi swastika.
Australian police are investigating an attack on two Jewish men in the city of Melbourne that left one of them requiring hospital treatment for severe bruising and lacerations.
Sunday’s attack occurred just over a week after the introduction of legislation to ban the public display of the Nazi swastika, The Age newspaper reported.
One of the victims, 50-year-old Yacov Gozlan, said he had been leaving a supermarket in the city late on Sunday night when he saw an Orthodox Jewish man being attacked.
“He was holding the religious man’s hat behind his back and pushing him back with the other hand towards a transit van,” Gozlan told the outlet. “I said to him ‘I’m Jewish, he’s Jewish, leave us alone’, and he started bashing me straight away.”
Gozlan said he ran inside the supermarket, where the assault continued. He alleged that he was gouged in both eyes during the altercation.
A Victoria Police spokeswoman confirmed a 33-year-old man was arrested at the scene and was assisting police with inquiries. No charges have been filed.
“A 50-year-old man stepped in to assist after witnessing another man being allegedly subjected to antisemitic abuse. Upon doing so, the man was allegedly then punched and knocked to the ground by a 33-year-old man,” the police spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman said officers were looking to identify the individual who was on the receiving end of the antisemitic abuse and urged them to come forward.
“Victoria Police understand incidents of antisemitism can leave communities feeling targeted, threatened, and vulnerable. We treat any reports of antisemitism seriously,” the spokeswoman said.
Dvir Abramovich — Chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC), a Jewish civil rights group — said that the situation had “now reached a staggering stage whereby being identifiably Jewish makes one a likely target for harassment and abuse.”
Last week, two men were charged by police after allegedly plastering Nazi swastika stickers on fences, light poles, bus stops and a Jewish community center just one day after the Australian government introduced its legislation to ban the swastika.