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One Nation Senator fails to moderate antisemitic comments

Jan 7, 2021 | Naomi Levin

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During violent riots at the US Capitol, Australian Senator Malcolm Roberts published provocative commentary on his Facebook page, which resulted in some of his supporters leaving antisemitic comments in response.

Australians have watched in alarm at the turn of events in the United States. These riots cannot be detached from damaging disinformation and fabrications which have been spread on social media in particular. 

Senator Roberts, who represents Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party, published a post on his Facebook page on the morning of Thursday, Jan. 7, as the rioters were being removed from the US Capitol.  

Roberts’ post said: “Ever wonder why Trump has been relentlessly attacked and the Soros funded and controlled Democrats are willing to do anything to steal the election?

It’s because he gets things done that unwind globalists’ control of American governance from 1988 through to 2016.”

“Soros” is a reference to George Soros, the Hungarian-born Jewish philanthropist who supports numerous causes in the US and Europe, including some decidedly left-wing ones – some of which, critics argue, are extreme. Soros has long been a target of the extreme right, as well as others, who oppose the causes he funds.  

Research by the US-based ADL called “The Antisemitism Lurking Behind George Soros Conspiracy Theories” found the following:   

“A person who promotes a Soros conspiracy theory may not intend to promulgate antisemitism. But Soros’ Jewish identity is so well-known that in many cases it is hard not to infer that meaning. This is especially true when Soros-related conspiracy theories include other well-worn antisemitic tropes such as control of the media or banks; references to undermining societies or destabilizing countries; or language that hearkens back to the medieval blood libels and the characterization of Jews as evil, demonic, or agents of the antichrist.  

Even if no antisemitic insinuation is intended, casting a Jewish individual as a puppet master who manipulates national events for malign purposes has the effect of mainstreaming antisemitic tropes and giving support, however unwitting, to bona fide antisemites and extremists who disseminate these ideas knowingly and with malice.”  

The responses to Senator Roberts’ post – arguably even the post itself – which had been shared more than 300 times at the time this article was written, highlight the ADL’s thesis.   

Commenter Rodney Viney wrote on Senator Roberts’ Facebook page “Sores [sic] is a fuckin old Jew and has never been any good”. Another commenterMark McDonald, added on the Senator Roberts’ page: “If you want to understand who controls the USA just remember it is the second state of Israel.”  

As of writing, these comments have not been removed from Senator Roberts’ Facebook.

Senator Roberts is the second Australian MP to reference Soros critically in recent weeks. 

Liberal National Party MP George Christensen included images of Soros in posts on his Facebook page warning about several general hypothetical propositions floated by the World Economic Forum, known as The Great Reset. After being called out, including by Labor-aligned author and academic Nick Dyrenfurth, Christensen said his use of Soros’ image could not be construed as antisemitic because he didn’t know Soros was Jewish, and, Christensen said, because his own great-grandmother was one-quarter Jewish. 

As CNN reporter Donie O’Sullivan said live from the riots in Washington DC “conspiracy theories are now playing such a prominent role in American life that you’re seeing this [the riots] all play out here. We have spoken for years about Facebook and Twitter and their failure to act on conspiracy theories and hateful speech online and we are seeing results of that play out here on the streets of our nation’s capital today … Here is the harm, the harm of conspiracy theories, the harm of lies.”  

All too often, conspiracy theories include antisemitic tropes. It is incumbent on Australian members of parliament to ensure their social media pages are not used to spread these harmful and dangerous messages. 

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