Report Shows Anti-Semitism On The Rise Following Outrage Over 'Party Nazis'
The leader of Australia’s Jewish council says there’s nothing funny about wearing a Nazi uniform to a party, as a new report shows the country is dealing with a stark increase in anti-Semitism.
There were 368 anti-Semitic incidents reported across the country in the past year, according to findings released on Monday by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ).
NSW had the most incidents with 219 anti-Semitic acts reported, followed by 105 in Victoria, 25 in Queensland and 15 in Western Australia.
There were four incidents reported in the ACT and none listed in Tasmania and South Australia, according to the report.
The report comes days after The Age published images showing four people wearing Nazi uniforms with swastika armbands in a supermarket in Victoria.
It was one of a string of incidents that occurred during Oktoberfest, with another group of men being kicked out of an event in the Yarra Valley after dressing up as Nazi soldiers.
"Some people apparently think it's a bit of a giggle to dress up in an SS uniform with Swastika armbands," Co-Chief Executive of ECAJ Peter Wertheim said.
They don't seem to understand that those things are symbols of mass murder, of genocide and of untold suffering to millions of people.
The report chronicled a substantial increase in anti-Semitic harassment, vandalism and threats by phone and email, with the incidents rising 30 per cent between October 2018-September 2019 and 59 per cent the following year.
The number of actual anti-Semitic incidents is expected to be higher, as many incidents are not formally reported to the police.
One of the most serious incidents included in the report was of a 12-year-old Jewish boy from Melbourne, who was sent to hospital after being violently assaulted in the school corridor by another student.
During the assault, the Jewish boy was punched in the face and had skin gouged from his shoulder as the attacker allegedly shouted the boy was a "cooked up Jewish c*nt".
In a separate incident, the same 12-year-old boy was lured to a park to play football before allegedly being threatened that if he didn't kiss the feet of one of his attackers, he'd be attacked by a group of eight.
After that story became public, the boy allegedly received a barrage of vitriolic abuse from a 15-year-old on Facebook messenger, who told him "the next headline will be you getting ur head kicked in f**king f**got”.
The mother of the 12-year-old also allegedly received threatening phone calls from several boys who called her a "Jewish dog and c*nt and warned they'd show up at her house and bash her.
A trend identified in the report was an increase in Holocaust denial and "white replacement theory", which blames Jewish people for the supposed demise of European race and culture.
The report also claims there was also a rise in hateful graffiti which called for Jews to be murdered and gassed.
"It mightn't mean a lot to people who aren't of Jewish background but for Jewish people it evokes all kinds of historical memories of persecution and murder of Jewish communities," Wertheim said.
Wertheim told 10 daily that anti-Semitism often involves othering Jewish people and painting them as something "alien" and "sinister".
"Whenever something goes wrong and people are dissatisfied with the way their lives are going, it's not uncommon for them to look around for a scapegoat," he told 10 daily.
I really hope it doesn't take something like the Christchurch massacre for people to wake up and take this seriously.
Anti-Semitism can have a serious impact on Jewish communities, causing "hypertension, nightmares, post-traumatic stress disorder, and in extreme cases, psychosis and suicide", according to the report.
Wertheim is calling on the government to create a national system to categorise and record hate acts, as well for teachers to be better trained to deal with anti-Semitism and racism.
He mentioned one example where a business lecturer at a Sydney university allegedly claimed the Holocaust was an “efficient and effective management” of people during a 45-minute presentation last year.
A similar incident occurred in September, when another Sydney lecturer referred to anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews being wealthy, prompting several students to submit complaints.
Wertheim said a sad reality of Jewish life, even in a country as tolerant as Australia, is that the community has to employ guards, use CCTV cameras, high fences and metal detectors at places of worship to keep safe.
"We're not going to live our lives in fear but we would just like to address it intelligently and calmly and understand the causes of it," he said.
"I think we can do something quite significant to counteract [anti-Semitism] if the political will is great."
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