Australia/Israel Review

Martyrdom Calls and Antisemitism in Australia

Jun 29, 2021 | Ran Porat

Sufyaan Khalifa (YouTube screenshot)
Sufyaan Khalifa (YouTube screenshot)

The conflict during May between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, named “Operation Guardian of the Walls” by the IDF, unleashed a tidal wave of antisemitism, demands for Israel’s destruction and violence across the world.

Unfortunately, several Australian Muslim and Arabic media outlets, Australian Muslim social media groups and Australian Muslim preachers participated in this ugly trend. Here are a few examples.


The Australian Muslim Times (AMUST)

The Australian Muslim Times (AMUST) dedicated a substantial portion of its June edition to the events in Gaza, and you would expect its coverage to be sympathetic to Palestinian suffering and critical of Israel. However, the paper went well beyond this, introducing antisemitic messages and conspiratorial and extreme claims about Israel.

Managing editor of AMUST Zia Ahmed’s “Global outcry against Israel’s brutal attacks” argues that “with its strong military might, the government of Israel does not feel accountable for its human rights violations and through its strong lobbying power in Western seats of power, no one can make it accountable.”

Daud Batchelor opens his article “Palestinians’ moral strength soars in facing Zionist tyranny” by stating: “Israel has become tyrannical, massacring Palestinians and stealing their land, unchallenged by complicit US and Australian governments.” He then argues that “Mosaic law imposes an ‘eye for an eye’ but Israel demands 20 Palestinian eyes for an Israeli eye,” repeating the conspiracy theory that, in Jerusalem, Israel “plans to illegally destroy Al-Aqsa in order to build a temple.”

Defining Zionism as “supremacism [which] now emerges to benefit some by severe loss of rights of indigenous Arabs,” Batchelor falsely claims that “Israel is currently indicted for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in the ICC Court.”

In the spirit of classic antisemitic tropes, Batchelor blames Zionism for numerous major world catastrophes: “Zionism is a spreading contagion, root-cause of the 9/11 attacks and invasions-destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria. Israel now threatens countries like Iran and Malaysia.”

Peace cannot be achieved, concludes Batchelor, “until it [Israel] becomes de-zionised so Muslims, Christians and refugees live peacefully with Jews. This is an elusive future due to zionist supremacism.”

According to Bilal Cleland (“The waning of the Israeli narrative”), Israel’s history is a “system of apartheid, of religious bigotry designed as a political weapon to smite the Palestinians.” Moreover, “every few years the ethnic cleansing of the non-Jews advances a step, with illegal Jewish colonial enclaves being set up, under IDF protection, on Palestinian land.”

Gary Dargan criticised Australian PM Scott Morrison in “Scotty’s tone deaf dog whistle” for his support for Israel. Dargan’s main attack was on the service of a very small number of Australian Jews in the Israeli army: “Every year Australian citizens travel to Israel to serve in the Israeli Defence forces (IDF). There is no compulsion to do this, they are volunteers. At the same time young Australians are actively recruited and trained by the Zionist movement to serve in the IDF. This recruitment and training takes place in Australia.” The last point is of course not true.

Dargan then goes on to imply that anyone who serves in the IDF is now effectively a war criminal, “The end result of this is Australian citizens being complicit in well documented war crimes carried out by the Israeli military. Worse than this in some cases they are actually targeting their fellow Australians.”

He finishes the article by calling on Canberra to “make it an offence under anti-terror laws for Australian citizens to serve in the IDF or provide financial support to illegal Israeli settlements.”

In “Big girl voice in Sydney for Palestine”, psychologist Nasreen Hanifi falsely claims that “Israeli nationalists have been working hard to replace the Palestinian population in almost every single city of Palestine.” Hanifi proudly describes how she took her six-year-old daughter to a pro-Palestinian rally in Sydney so her child could “see how children as young as her were murdered for crimes that they did not commit. This year, she participated in the role play.” Despite her profession, there is no word in her opinion piece invoking any concern about the possible psychological effects of exposing young children to such violent content.


(L-R) Mostafa Meneg, Zuhair Al-Sebaei

Farah News

True to their past record of promoting antisemitism, the editors of Farah News – a Sydney based Australian portal in Arabic for news and views from the Arab world – chose to run antisemitic articles and support for terrorist violence during the conflict, as well as calling for the ethnic cleansing of all Jews from Israel.

Brussels-based Mostafa Meneg reverts to the classic antisemitic technique of dehumanisation, likening Israel to a vampire, in “Israel’s vampire trembles”, published on Farah News in May 15.

Meneg praises the Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza, adding that they “are only the beginning of what will come after it (and soon) from southern Lebanon, then from Iran, and then from the Muslim countries of Asia, and the last of which are Arab countries that have long wished, like the clock, to show to Israel that… Islam that has been patient with the Israelis enough.”

Meneg also hails Hamas’ success, in his opinion, “to confront the orgy of Zionists who thought they possessed the world in the Security Council of its United Nations, and the American leadership and most of the countries of its Western world, knowing that they are going towards a certain defeat.”

In “Al-Quds is Arab and will remain Arab” (May 16), regular Farah News columnist Zuhair Al-Sebaei discusses the history of “global Zionism”, calling for the expulsion of the Jews from Israel: “Palestine is Arab, which is part of the Levant and the noble Aqsa. The day must come when it will be liberated from his captivity. England or anyone else has no right to settle Jews in Palestine. If Europe, America and Russia are fond of their love for the Jews and feel guilty and want atonement for the genocidal massacres committed by their ancestors on the rights of their Jewish citizens, let them open their countries and receive them [the Jews] with flowers and white rice.”


Sufyaan Khalifa

Algerian-born Perth resident Sufyaan Khalifa is a Muslim preacher who promotes conspiracy theories and antisemitism online to thousands of followers – and has been calling for the destruction of Israel for several years now.

Responding to growing tensions in Jerusalem a few days prior to escalation in Gaza, Khalifa posted a YouTube video on April 27; “ISRAEL’s END is VERY NEAR…PLAESTINE WILL be FREE” [capital letters and typos in the original text].

In his video, Khalifa labels Israel a “Cancer which has been planted in the Arab world by the Western colonists countries”, with the graphic behind him saying “Zionism = Nazism”.

“The Arabs will never see the dawn, nor see the light, until they get rid of the so-called Israel,” warns Khalifa. “That cancer [Israel] was planted in the Arab world for no reason except to prevent the Arab world and the Muslim world from standing up on its feet” and prevent a reunited Islamic empire.

“One day that state [Israel] will be vanished forever,” promises Khalifa as a banner saying “Israel’s end is very near” is projected on the screen.

Khalifa’s video ends with him stating that Israel’s end is “a decree from Allah.” “Justice will prevail and the occupying forces have to go back to where they came from,” says Khalifa, and on that day believers “from all denominations, Muslims and non-Muslims will rejoice.”


The Australian Muslim Facebook Group

Post from the Australian Muslim Facebook page

Some 2,500 people follow the Facebook page of The Australian Muslim.

On May 10, alongside an image of a Palestinian who was supposedly killed in the Al-Aqsa mosque (in fact no Palestinians were killed in or around the Al-Aqsa mosque during the conflict or in the clashes leading up to it.) The Australian Muslim’s post cried “Be jealous people be jealous!”, urging that being ‘martyred’ is something to aspire to.

A second post that day by The Australian Muslim, said: “People are dying in clubs and casinos, while others have the honour of being Martyred in the Holy Mosque of Al- Alqsa, [sic] Allahu Akbar. May Allah honour us with a death of a Martyr. Palestinian people should feel sorry for us, as well as us feeling sorry for ourselves.”

Finally, again on May 10, the headline of the post on the Australian Muslim Facebook page was “Israeli regime or Nazi regime?” Under an anti-Israeli video, the text of the post read: “Is the Israeli regime as bad as the Nazi regime? Watch this and see for yourself! Attacking people praying peacefully inside a place of worship is beyond inhuman.” Dehumanisation is of course a known tactic used to incite hatred and violence.


Dr. Ran Porat is an AIJAC Research Associate. He is also a Research Associate at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University, a Research Fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Centre in Herzliya and a Research Associate at the Future Directions International Research Institute, Western Australia.


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