The covert antisemitism at the Melbourne anti-lockdown protest on Saturday
Aug 26, 2021 | Tzvi Fleischer
The large anti-lockdown rally in Melbourne last Saturday, August 21, made headlines especially for sparking violent clashes with police – with six police officers hospitalised and 218 people arrested by the end.
The placards at the rally featured numerous conspiracy theories, both about the COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccines being used to immunise against it, and about completely unrelated issues, such as the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the US.
There were also reports that white supremacist groups such as the National Socialist Network and the Proud Boys made their presence felt at the various recent anti-lockdown rallies across Australia. Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton confirmed on ABC radio “We have intelligence there were right-wing extremists involved” in the Melbourne rally on August 21.
Meanwhile, it has now been reported by Cait Kelly of the New Daily, that, “before this weekend’s rally, two neo-Nazi leaders… appeared on a far-right anti-semitic YouTube show watched by almost 1000 people. They discussed tactics neo-Nazis attending the anti-lockdown rally should use to recruit members.”
In addition, Seven News reporter Paul Dowsley shared on twitter a photograph of a National Socialist Network sticker placed on a police car during the rally:
The Melbourne rally also featured some blatantly antisemitic material – but it was coded so its antisemitic meaning may not have been obvious to the casual observer, or the authorities.
There were at least three signs at the Melbourne rally that featured the slogan “Qui?”, the French word for “who”. It is not obvious unless you know it, but this is a new slogan popular on the White supremacist far right, and the implied answer to the question is “the Jews.” And the further implication is that the Jews are behind or benefit from whatever is the conspiracy du jour.
Note that one of the two placards refers to 911, apparently implying the Jews are behind that 2001 terrorist attack by Al-Qaeda.
On Aug. 17, the Guardian reported on the origins of the far right “Qui?” slogan – which started in France earlier this year:
In France, “Qui?” spread after a June television interview with the retired army general Dominique Delawarde, who suggested certain groups were controlling the “media pack”. Pressed to say who he was referring to, Delawarde responded to the question “mais qui?” (but who?) by saying: “that well-known community”.
Delawarde was one of the signatories of a controversial letter published in April this year, warning of the “disintegration” of France and evoking what it called the “perils” of Islamic extremists and “the hordes” from France’s banlieues, the poor and run-down city suburbs, particularly those outside Paris. The letter also accused anti-racism groups of creating “hatred between communities” and cautioned that “lax” government policies could spark chaos requiring military action to “protect our civilisational values.”
In addition, the rally saw widespread distribution of stickers that looks like this:
Thanks to the Star of David, the stickers give more of a clue that they have something to do with Jews, unlike the “Qui?” slogan. However, their true meaning is not apparent until you follow the QR code on them. That takes you to a video claiming the Jews were behind the Sept. 11 attacks.
Antisemitic slogans and signs have characterised past anti-lockdown rallies in Australia before this one.
Wherever conspiracy theories flourish, antisemitism seems to inevitably rear its head – and as AIJAC has documented (see here, here and here), the COVID-19 pandemic has provided plenty of fuel for such conspiracy theories. Worse, it is clear white supremacist groups are explicitly making use of anti-lockdown rallies to spread hateful messages, including against Jews, and recruit new members.