Record Reports of Antisemitic Violence, Harassment and Intimidation in Australia
VIOLENCE, VANDALISM, HARASSMENT
During the twelve months ending September 30, 2008, 652 reports were recorded of incidents defined by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission as “racist violence” against Jewish Australians. These incidents included physical assault, vandalism – including through arson attacks – threatening telephone calls, hate mail, graffiti, leaflets, posters and abusive and intimidatory electronic mail. This exceeded by 2% the previous highest total, recorded in the year ending September 30, 2007. It was more than twice the previous average annual total.
Incidents of assault, arson attacks, face-to-face harassment and vandalism which are broadly defined as “attacks” were recorded at the second highest rate on record set in the previous 12 month period.
The total was more than double the previous average. Threats, conveyed through the telephone, mail, leaflets, posters or e-mail, were recorded at a rate just under twice the previous average and at the highest level in six years.
During the twelve months in review, the combined number of incidents involving physical assault, property damage and direct, face-to-face harassment was almost three times the previous average.
Reports of threats conveyed to the Jewish community through telephone calls or through the mail were received at a rate only thirty percent of the average over the previous eighteen years.
Telephone calls, which often contained extreme antisemitic abuse, were recorded at the lowest rate in nineteen years. Incidents of hate mail were recorded at the third lowest rate in nineteen years, but abusive and threatening mail continued to be received at private homes and by Jewish institutions. There are some letter writers who have mailed the same or similar antisemitic letters to different recipients over a long period of time, whose activities are supplemented by a number of people who write letters often or on specific issues.
There is a particular concern when graffiti is daubed on synagogues and other Jewish communal institutions, as this not only has the potential to offend and intimidate a large number of people but also as it could represent desecration of religious sites. During the period in review incidents of graffiti were reported at the second lowest level in eight years and at a rate eighty percent of the average for all years.
The receipt of abusive, threatening and other antisemitic email sent to individuals and communal offices was reported at a rate of more than seven times a week in the year in review. The total during this reporting period was more than four times the average and forty percent greater than the previous worst year.
The Jewish community receives reports on a regular basis of the receipt of text messages, leaflets and other material placed in private letterboxes by hand, the sighting of posters with anti-Jewish themes, stickers on buildings and telegraph poles and other similar forms of dissemination of anti-Jewish propaganda.
JEWS IN AUSTRALIA AND ANTISEMITISM
The Australian Jewish community has been an integral part of Australia’s population since the first days of European settlement.
While there have been incidents of anti-Jewish activity occurring throughout the different periods of the development of modern Australia, opposition to antisemitism has also been present and, perhaps more importantly, the question of the place of Jews within Australian society has generally not been an issue which has excited the Australian population.
Although Jewish Australians have twice been appointed Governors-General, our military forces have included Jewish Australians in their senior leadership ranks and the community has been able to build an impressive network of institutions to serve its needs, an unacceptably high number of Australian Jews can provide evidence of instances of discrimination, harassment and racial defamation.
Some anti-Jewish behaviour has found apologists who portray it as culturally innate, simple ignorance, a legitimate reaction to the behaviour of Jews themselves or as the poor expression of otherwise legitimate views. In recent years, with increasing antisemitism emanating from left-wing sources there has been an additional issue of figures close to the political and social mainstream rationalising or justifying antisemitism by misrepresenting it as legitimate political expression. In a recurring pattern, the false charge that all, or most, critics of any Israeli policy or action is called antisemitic, is levelled.
No comprehensive statistics exist on the subject of general racist violence, vilification, harassment and intimidation, which would supplement or give context to the data-collection and analysis of the Jewish community. It is disappointing that, despite considerable public funding aimed at redressing anti-Muslim and/or anti-Arab discrimination and prejudice, there has been no comprehensive documentation of incidents of harassment or intimidation which would assist in both analysis and formulation of policy response.
There is often a link between racism against other sections of the Australian community and antisemitism, as reports of physical manifestations of antisemitism have increased at times of harassment of Asian Australians after Professor Geoffrey Blainey’s claim of the imminent Asianisation of Australia in 1984, when Indigenous organisations and individuals were facing intimidation in 1988 and when the anti-immigration One Nation Party enjoyed short-lived electoral success in the late 1990s There is no evidence to suggest that Australians in general think of Jews in negative terms. Unlike many other societies, Australia does not have a past to which antisemites can comfortably look with nostalgia.
Nevertheless, some Australians have anti-Jewish prejudice which equates to, for example, anti-Asian, anti-Aborigine, anti-Arab or anti-African prejudice, expressing itself in terms of racial superiority. In addition, anti-Jewish prejudice considered normative in some other cultures has been brought to Australia by immigrants and can exist for many years within sub-cultures.
THEMES IN ANTI-JEWISH DISCOURSE
Sources of anti-Jewish stereotyping and vilification are quite diverse and it would be misleading to portray antisemitic organisation and individuals as acting in concert.
The most common theme in contemporary Australian antisemitic rhetoric is that Jews in Australia and/or internationally, individually and/or collaboratively, exercise disproportionate power and influence against the interests of non-Jews.
It is unfortunately common for extremists and antisemites in Australia to use the experiences of Jews as victims of Genocide, murder and assault as a means to insult Jewish people and incite or justify hatred of them. The most extreme example is the historically and logically inappropriate designation of language and symbols associated with the Nazi genocide to Jewish people, such as accusing Jews of being “Nazi-like”, committing “Holocausts” and/or Genocide, or supporting “concentration camps”.
A thread common to a number of types of prejudice and vilification which are specific to Jews is the depiction of Jews as representing an existential threat to non-Jews and who have enormous power and drive to achieve their aim, generally presented as “world domination”.
Stereotypes of Jews, most often as stingy or ostentatiously wealthy, reinforce prejudices which facilitate more malicious vilification. A result of behaviour of this type can be the encouragement, or rationalisation of, abuse, harassment and more serious vilification.
Extremist organisations actively propagate the myth that there is a plot by some or all Jews, acting alone or in collusion with other “elites”, to control international finance, media and politics. This view is commonly expressed as opposition to a globally imposed “World Order” which has as one of its aims the subjugation of the (non-Jewish) population of Australia to serve an all-powerful United Nations.
A subset of the above is the promotion of the claim that there was neither a Nazi Genocide of Jews nor an attempt at one. The thesis presented, either explicitly or implicitly, is that Jews, sometimes with the help of sympathisers and sycophants, use popular belief in the Nazi Holocaust as a means of extorting sympathy, money and political gain.
At present it is fair to say that Holocaust Denial is generally understood, in Australia, to be antisemitic. In the judgements in the Federal Court cases, Jones v Toben and Jones v Bible Believers it was established it can be racist as defined in Australian law.
Nevertheless, Holocaust deniers have been establishing their own historiography and have shown an ability to take advantage of media opportunities and modern communication techniques to harass and intimidate Jews as well as attempting to mislead the Australian public.
When Jews are called Nazis it not only renders the unique crimes of Hitler’s regime common-place, but also uses Jews’ past suffering as a means of abuse. During recent periods of high tension in the Middle East, the expression of this view was increasingly tolerated, and even promoted, by sections of the mainstream media. The slur has currency particularly in far left circles, with some members of left-wing groups alleging that civilians who are the tragic victims of conflicts involving Israel are victims of a Nazi-like genocide and some right-wingers accusing Jews who support legal recourse for victims of racism with Nazis who murdered political opponents. It has also been used increasingly by Arab and Muslim critics of Israel in Australia.
Sloppy, inappropriate invocation of terminology, including “Nazi” and “Holocaust”, is not necessarily the result of antisemitic intent, but does denigrate the reality of Genocide, persecution and suffering.
This phenomenon is disturbing, and can have the result of furthering antisemitic agendas, even if Jews were not part of the thinking of those who are part of it.
Another form of Holocaust denigration is the demand that Jews stop acting as if the experiences under Nazism have any contemporary relevance and the call for individuals and the community to “get over it.” This sentiment is often voiced by that section of the extreme right which accepts that there was a Holocaust, as well as by Holocaust Deniers who will argue that the suffering was not even particularly severe.
References to Judaism as a religion which leads its adherents to behave in a manner which, by virtue of being un-Christian, is judged to be not in accord with Australian social values, has been invoked by individuals, and organisations, who have differed with Jewish community organisations on matters of public policy.
Beyond the concept of Judaism as un-Christian is the theme of Judaism as anti-Christian, which plays a part in the conspiracy theories of a number of extremist organisations. The Australian League of Rights, the Adelaide Institute, the British-Israel World Federation, “Identity” churches and some self-styled “Biblical Fundamentalists” portray Jews as religious, racial or political opponents of Christianity.
The Talmud is a subject for distortion and misrepresentation by these groups and others aiming to vilify Jews, and in the rhetoric of the far right symbolises a code of living implacably opposed to “Christian justice”. The widespread dissemination of distortions of the Talmud has taken on the trappings of a concerted campaign, with antisemitic internet sites used as a source of material which subsequently appeared in other productions of anti-Semites Out-dated and puerile as the stereotype of Jews as unethical and stingy may appear to be, it has had remarkable resilience in the repertoire of a number of humorists, including some within the mainstream media. Anti-Jewish humour in social contexts in contemporary Australia also often revolves around such stereotypes, occasionally even receiving broadcast on radio.
POLITICS, MEDIA AND COMMUNITY
In the period in review, anecdotal evidence continued to emerge to the effect that anti-Jewish views and opinions being voiced in situations which suggest that there has been a weakening of social and cultural sanctions against overt racism. A study of the situation in a number of schools revealed instances of widespread anti-Jewish prejudice, with both far-right and religious sources. A number of reports were received of anti-Jewish abuse on sporting fields. On internet forums linked to mainstream commercial enterprises, antisemitic stereotyping and insults are far too common.
Online communities, Facebook and You-Tube in particular, have been the venues of crude and intense anti-Jewish prejudice being expressed openly and unashamedly. While the sum total of reports of each and all such behaviour is not sufficient to suggest that it is rampant, it is nevertheless cause for genuine concern.
Coverage of issues relating to the Australian Jewish community by the mainstream media is extensive and out of all proportion to the community’s size or of its percentage of the Australian population.
On a range of issues, sections of the mainstream media seek the input and opinions of the Australian Jewish community and coverage on matters of direct concern to Jews is a regular feature in both foreign and domestic affairs coverage. The coverage is generally responsible and does not unduly play on the “Jewishness” of individuals or of the issues.
On some subjects, particularly relating to issues resulting from the Nazi Holocaust, the media has been generally sympathetic to the community, while there is less sympathy when it comes to coverage of Israel and the Middle East and where some commentators can be identified who use different criteria for judging Israel than they do for any other state due to Israel’s Jewish population. Matters which have some complexity are sometimes simplified by use of stereotypes or racist imagery, giving genuine reason for concern at the way inappropriate analogies are used when discussing matters involving the Jewish community, Israel or individual Jewish people.
The 2007 Federal election was notable for a lack of impact, or even visibility, of extremist political groups. Over the past decade, representatives of the major Parties have vigorously exposed any electoral preferencing, relationship or contact between their opponents and political extremists, and there is now an accepted, if informal, protocol which has known extremists placed below other candidates in voter advisory literature.
The small political party, One Nation, was the exception to the broad consensus against antisemitism and a cause of on-going concern.
It is significant to note that the open antisemitism coincided with One Nation’s dramatic electoral demise.
The Australian media is a major source of information for the Australian community. The influence of the media should mean that there is a concomitant sense of responsibility. In most cases this responsibility is taken seriously. There are no overtly antisemitic radio stations, newspapers or television broadcasters with a mainstream audience, but there are a number of reasons for concern which have arisen during the reporting period.
Given the way in which Australian racists have behaved over a long period, there is considerable evidence to support the contention that when they believe their activities are tolerated or even rationalised and encouraged by sources of authority, which can include the mainstream media, they seem far more likely to act on any antisemitism they already harbour. This is particularly the case when antisemitic views are broadcast on the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission), as in the minds of racists this signifies that bigotry has received government imprimatur.
There has also been occasional comment within the mainstream media which has given cause for concern. This situation is compounded by the ability of some individuals and organisations to have letters published and talkback calls aired which foment prejudice. A third concern is lapses in journalistic standards which allow antisemitic comments to be published and broadcast, resulting more from a lack of sensitivity than anti-Jewish intent. Anti-Israel documentaries and news reports have been used by racist organisations and individuals to demonstrate to their followers and potential supporters that anti-Jewish activity had some level of public endorsement.
Israel receives extensive but generally superficial coverage in the Australian mass media. The propaganda ploy of presenting those responsible for the introduction of violence into a situation where peaceful negotiations were proceeding, as if they were the victims of some unprovoked brutality, was carried in a number of sections of the Australian media, sometimes with enthusiasm and often without reasoned analysis. Those who have broad antisemitic agendas have found this situation a useful pretext for voicing their anti-Jewish prejudices and incitements. Others who may in different circumstances be opposed to racism sometimes added their voices and contributed opinions, which have included the attribution of racial characteristics to Jews.
The volume of antisemitism in public discourse, particularly in the wake of the 2001 and 2002 terrorist bombings and Israel’s battles with Hezbollah and Hamas in mid-2006, had few precedents in Australia. The most disturbing feature of the debate in Australia on the Middle East was the way in which overt anti-Jewish comments went uncriticised by those who proclaim that their criticism of Israel is in no way related to criticism of Jews.
Although the many small groups which comprise the Australian far-left often make declarations critical of racism in all its forms, demonisation of Israel is a common thread and the extremes of language used to condemn Zionism and Israel can only promote a mythology on Jewish “internationalism”, powerful and evil, almost indistinguishable from the far right. It should be noted that most of the groups in this sector are ambiguous, if not internally contradictory, on questions of Jews and of Middle East politics, but the fact that material was published promoting the concept of “Zionism” as an “international conspiracy” and of Jews as Nazis warrants criticism.
During the period in review, the Senate of Australia commenced an inquiry into Academic Freedom. One result was that a number of Jewish students began to tell of some negative and hostile experiences on campus. These included the introduction into classrooms of extraneous and tendentious material critical of the Jewish community of Australia and/or Israel, disparaging remarks regarding names of students thought to indicate they were Jewish, teaching on Israel which distorted Jewish history and beliefs, blogs maintained by academics which promoted and hosted extreme anti-Israel and often anti—Jewish material and a number of other issues.
Australia’s Arabic-speaking community is large and vibrant. Jews are not a major concern or pre-occupation for this community, but when Jewish matters are discussed it can give rise to concerns, particularly when discussion of the Middle East departs from vigorous political debate and enters the realm of religious and racial stereotyping. During the period in review, concern remained at the availability at Islamic bookstores of overt antisemitic and other extremist literature and videos, the propagation of anti-Jewish myths by a number of imams and religious teachers, the association between Australian Muslims and individuals and groups in other countries known to be actively anti-Jewish, as well as the circulation of anti-Jewish propaganda within the Muslim population in Australia.
The most blatant antisemitism, including promotions of The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, appeared on The Mission Islam web-site.
It not only links to the overtly antisemitic www.jewwatch.com site but contains a section “The Truth About the Talmud” which contained a list of fraudulent and out-of-context statements designed to portray Judaism as ridiculous and violently hostile to all non-Jews.
Anti-Jewish books available at book stores serving the Islamic community were an on-going area of concern. While books promoting terrorism in an overt manner were subject to official censorship, anti-Jewish material can only be dealt with under the various State and territory anti-racism legislation and these laws are generally not well-framed to deal with this type of situation. Despite public criticism, including some from prominent Islamic groups, some Muslim bookshops continue to stock material such as copies of The Protocols of Zion.
A paper delivered by Benjamin Kunde at the Australian Association of Jewish Studies Conference (February 2008) claimed many “modern Muslim Australian youth” held strong antisemitic views, with the swastika seen as a reminder of “good things”, belief in Jewish control of Australian government and echoing of Hezbollah anti-Jewish chants being typical.
The discussions on Islamic and Arabic internet forums and the content of postings to newsgroups testify to a vigorous anti-Jewish sub-culture. The internet site Islamic Sydney contained numerous examples of overt antisemitism.
A Special Report “Antisemitism among Muslim youth: A Sydney teacher’s perspective”, published by ADC of B’nai B’rith (May 2008) claimed that, in high schools surveyed, “A Jewish teacher was harassed by Muslim students with racial taunts in class. Two Jewish relieving teachers were instructed by other staff not to let the students know they were Jewish because it was implied they would be harassed.
Teachers of unknown religious background have been harassed in attempts to convert them to Islam. In subject areas where Jews, Judaism or Israel are mentioned students deny facts that reflect well on Jews or Israel. In Ancient History classes some Muslim students deny Abraham or Moses was Jewish, claiming they were Muslim. In social life, antisemitism is a source of amusement. It is popular for boys to download beheadings and attacks against “infidels” onto their mobile phones and then swap and show them with their friends. This atrocity exhibitionism is widespread across schools in the region.
Students also have access to DVDs of murder and torture committed by Islamists against Jews and Christians.
Over a number of years, there has been a cross-pollination of ideology and material between some sections of the Australian Muslim community and the extreme right wing political organisations. Racist groups such as the Australian League of Rights have hosted speakers such as Keysar Trad of the Islamic Friendship Association, due to the perception that Jews and/or Israel is a common, serious enemy. In 2007, The Sydney Forum, arguably the most significant annual gathering of the Australian far right, featured as a speaker anti-Israel, left-wing polemicist Rihab Charida, who spoke in the company of a number of anti-multicultural extreme right wingers, on the subject of Middle East politics.
It must be emphasised that the Jewish and Islamic communities in Australia enjoy a generally positive relationship and there is little evidence that anti-Jewish sentiment is widespread. At the public, leadership level, Muslim and Jewish Australians regularly meet, and promote understanding and tolerance. Joint declarations supplement stand-alone condemnations of racism and discrimination. Even in times of high tension, such as in the wake of comments by a lecturer in Australia as a guest of Jewish organisations, that Muslim migration be selectively capped, the overall relationship remained positive.
The Muslim community includes individuals active in opposing antisemitism, in one or more of its manifestations. While some organisations, such as the followers of the Gulen movement, devote energy and resources to interfaith dialogue, others are involved in educating other Muslims about antisemitism.
During the period in review, in Australia and internationally, there has been considerable discussion on the presence and significance of antisemitism in the political left. For a number of years, extreme anti-Israel propaganda, including many pieces disputing Israel’s right to exist and blaming “Zionists” for many world problems, have been produced by left-wing groups, who have sometimes aligned themselves with anti-progressive, racist groups to further anti-Israel agendas.
A number of commentators have begun to note the reality of antisemitism in left-wing circles, a reality denied by many self-described left-wingers for many years.
It has become commonplace for some in the political left to claim that charges of antisemitism are used to restrict debate on Israel. In most cases, the complained of charge had not been levelled, as supporters of Israel are perfectly capable of arguing on the basis of facts. On the rare occasions when the charge is levelled, it is done so cautiously and only when it appears the only or a significant contributing cause and/or result of the behaviour in question.
The groups in this part of the political spectrum share with the far-right a vigorous opposition to the “establishment” and what they perceive to be those with power. Anti-Americanism and contempt for liberal democracies is marked by conspiracy theories and by simplistic divisions of political forces into friends and enemies.
Some far-left groups have made common cause with extreme anti-Israel Islamist groups, which promote social and economic agendas which would logically be repugnant to social progressives. Even more common is the drawing of precise analogies between Israel and Nazi Germany.
The history of the relationship of Judaism and Christianity over 2,000 years should be a compelling reason for representatives of Churches to exercise care in pronouncements concerning Jews, Judaism and Israel. In some areas, there is residual supercessionism which leads to derogatory references to the Jewish religion. Anti-Jewish imagery in the Christian Testament is invoked, not always maliciously, as part of the language of some Churches. Religious visions for the Land which was the setting for the development of both Judaism and early Christianity can lead to confusion between legitimate or unambiguously political commentary and negative and irrational depictions of the role of Jews and Judaism.
There was considerable concern within the Jewish community that the re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross, which was part of the official schedule of events for Catholic World Youth Day, held in 2008 in Sydney. However, although there were some controversial inclusions which had the potential to promote antisemitism if not staged carefully, the performance did not have any negative impact. This was to a large degree a result of the goodwill which has been established over many years between the Jewish community and the Catholic Church in Australia.
The way in which Church representatives discuss Israel and Middle East issues from time to time is a cause of considerable concern. The rhetoric emanating from Sabeel in Jerusalem, which has included supercessionist language and tendentious discussions of what is happening in Israel and between Israel and its neighbours, has echoes in Australian Church debate. Other Church leaders adopt broadly Leftist political agendas which can result in seepage of anti-Semitic language and material in to religious discourse.
It is important to emphasise that the attitude towards antisemitism from the mainstream Australian churches is overwhelmingly hostile and that the most vocal condemnations of anti-Jewish prejudice in Australia often come from Church leaders or public figures connected to mainstream churches.
Computer communications technology, which has become increasingly part of the lives of Australians, is relevant to any discussion of antisemitism in Australia today. In addition to allowing neo-Nazis and antisemites in Australia to receive information and produce professional-quality, up-to-date propaganda, on-line services are of concern for a number of reasons.
Antisemitic and threatening e-mail has now become the most common means of antisemitic harassment in Australia. As more members of the Jewish community, including Holocaust survivors, establish e-mail accounts, the greater the prospects of hate, abuse and intimidation being sent to them this way.
In addition to material transmitted by electronic mail, many un-moderated newsgroups dealing with Australian issues have allowed for individual bigots and anti-Jewish propagandists to promote material to a new and potentially larger audience.
The internet has also been used as a means for racists to promote and purchase material such as neo-Nazi computer games.
The Adelaide Institute, a loose conglomeration of individuals around self-styled “Holocaust Revisionist” Fredrick Toben which has its primary activity the publishing of material on the internet, has in recent year disseminated arguably the most vicious and malicious anti-Jewish propaganda of any Australian group. Even David Irving, in his Action Report, wrote that Fredrick Toben’s “(blatantly) ‘anti-Semitic Website” was a liability to Holocaust revisionists.
In August 2008, a hearing took place in the Federal Court in the matter of Jones v Toben, in which the complainant tabled material which he argued had been published on the Adelaide Institute Website in breach of the Orders of the Court. At the time of writing the court had not delivered a verdict.
One of the most visible of the plethora of eccentric pseudo-Christian groups in Australia is the “Bible Believers”. For a number of years Anthony Grigor-Scott of Sydney’s western suburbs maintained a bulletin board on which he published long antisemitic tracts. He has also been a long-term participant in discussions on unmoderated newsgroups. He has an internet site which includes a huge volume of antisemitism, including The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem, A.H. Ramsay’s The Nameless Jew and Zimmunism, which quotes extensively from League of Rights texts in an attempt to prove that “the Jewish race operates” by “hypnotism which has been exercised over the whole world”. A complete copy of The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion available on his home-page. Grigor-Scott has also operated a weekly radio program, on a low frequency local station, in which he delivered antisemitic sermons. A Complaint under the Federal Racial Hatred Act lodged in 2005 resulted in a judgement on February 2 2007 ordering that the Bible Believers’ Church remove material from the website denying the Holocaust took place. In the judgment, Justice Richard Conti ordered Anthony Grigor-Scott to remove claims Jewish people deliberately exaggerated the number of Jews killed during World War II for improper purposes, including financial gain. He also ordered the removal of material denying the existence of gas chambers in the German concentration camp in Auschwitz. Justice Conti further ruled that Mr Grigor-Scott should be restrained from publishing similar material in the future, particularly his claim that there was serious doubt that the Holocaust occurred. Grigor-Scott successfully appealed the judgement, on a procedural technicality and not on whether his material was in breach of the law.
A website which is not dedicated to promoting antisemitism but which has published offensive anti-Jewish material is Downunder Newslinks. In the period in review, material published on Downunder Newslinks included Holocaust Denial, in the form of an article “Ten Reasons Why the Holocaust is a Fraud” (October 2007); an article “The Paradoxes of Anti-Semitism”, taken from David Dukes’ website, (November 2007); The site linked to an article which included comments such as “The Jew – A Heartless, Lying, Demonic Monster”, “Isra Hell”, “Zionist Judeo-Christian Synagogues of Satan” and “the Jew filth is endless”.
Downunder Newslinks discussion of Jones v Toben included comments such as “feeding our common addiction …….Making the “magnificent” Jew Squirm ? It must annoy the Chosen Ones greatly that Toben shows little animosity to the “Islamo-Fasscists”……In asking ourselves why the immigration advocacy of the Chosen Ones has facilitated the flooding of European communities with millions of Islamic opportunists invited here on our behalf by the existiential manifestation of Grima WormTongue, the answer lies in asking ourselves, “Why would we fight them if they were not HERE”…… We are being goaded and duped into fighting for the Jews’ “Greater Israel”. No self-respecting and honourable European, on becoming aware of the duplicity that disrespects him, will fight. To fight and die for the children of Judas Iscariot is a dishonourable death and a betrayal of everything that the European Man stands for. Men of the West must stand their ground and not be diminished by the Lies of the Jew, his “power” rest only in his Lies.”, “These jews will hound Toben until the day he dies. They never give up! Good to see Toben fighting hard against these filthy jews.” , and “the best thing that could happen for this country is a few .45 bullets in jeremy jones.” (August 2008).
A website which is published from Adelaide, AustraliaFreePress.org, included a wide-range of conspiracy material, including Holocaust denial, a number of anti-Israel articles and attacks on individual Jewish personalities as frauds, paedophiles and anti-Christian.
Two other websites which published a very large volume of overt antisemitic material during the period in review were the Freedom Liberation Movement and Ziopedia. Both of these websites have numerous sub-sections, are regularly updated and are overtly antisemitic.
Material published on the Internet can be relatively simply adapted to form the base of hate mail and abuse and there have been reports received during the past year of members of the Australian Jewish community being e-mailed (always anonymously) slabs of anti-Jewish material downloaded from anti-Jewish websites.
Antisemitic individuals, groups and organisations continue to maintain high visibility on Australian-based newsgroups during period in review. Whenever the possibility arose, one or more individuals made interventions on public affairs issues with an anti-Jewish slant.
Some discussion forums cater specifically to the agendas of racist, but the lack of any reasonable form of control over postings in many other groups made them particularly useful to individuals and groups who represented extreme and eccentric viewpoints or who engage in racism and anti-Jewish defamation.
Australia continues to be host to a plethora of organisations that promote antisemitism, including some who have this as their primary purpose. The groups vary greatly in their membership, their activities and their target audiences. Some of the individuals who lead far right-wing and antisemitic organisations have been involved in extremist political activity for decades. The organisations which they have led are supplemented by a changing group of individuals and minute groupings of individuals, including some who have established their presence primarily through their activities on the internet (which permits the small organisations to maintain an existence and gives potential recruits a point of contact).
It should be noted that not all antisemitic organisations can be accurately classified as “far right”. There are conspiracy theorists who are identified with quasi New Age, Libyan-inspired “Third Way” and political Islamist philosophies which also have promoted antisemitism.
These groups continue to feed a steady stream of anti-Jewish propaganda to their followers.
The Australian far-right fringe is internally dynamic and in a constant state of flux.
Between them, the various antisemitic organisations have a growing number of Internet sites which are permanently available to users of online services; newsgroups and online clubs which regularly post their views; newspapers and newsletters, in a number of languages, which are published as often as weekly; weekly newsletters mailed to subscribers and available at selected outlets; a number of monthly and bi-monthly magazines some of which are available at news stands; the ability to e-mail large numbers of recipients, in addition to mass mailings, leafleting and faxing of material to both selected recipients and to members of the general public; and meetings which pay varying degrees of attention to the antisemitic elements of the respective agendas.
The paranoia and political extremist views concerning what each believe to be the political and economic establishment has drawn together far-right, far-left and some anarchist groups, in opposition to “globalisation”, various government policy proposals which they perceive as empowering a State which they view as a political enemy and to Israel. In each case, there has been evidence of almost interchangeable antisemitic rhetoric coming from groups which would regard themselves as being diametrically opposed, politically and ideologically.
The Australian League of Rights, at one time described by the Federal Government’s Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission as “undoubtedly the most influential and effective, as well as the best organised and most substantially financed, racist organisation in Australia”, continued to hold meetings, conduct action campaigns and seek publicity for its antisemitic analysis of domestic and international affairs.
The Citizens’ Electoral Councils (CECs), based in a well-staffed office in suburban Melbourne, engage in mass mailings of literature reflecting the views of their guru, Lyndon LaRouche, containing bizarre and offensive antisemitic conspiracy theories.
In addition to Bible Believers (above), a number of small organisations which claim to be “Christian” but emphasise race more than religion, continue to serve a small constituency. In Australia they conduct services and ceremonies, publish newsletters and leaflets, sell books and videos and use the internet to reach much larger audiences in Australia and internationally. Some of these are “Identity” Churches which are overtly antisemitic while a much smaller number adopted some of the teachings of “Identity” Churches, such as the racial link between Jews of the Bible and White Anglo-Saxons, while rejecting the program elements of these organisations.
The Australian Civil Liberties’ Union (ACLU), which undoubtedly benefits from having a name which would sit comfortably on a respectable “free speech” group such as the mainstream Australian Council for Civil Liberties, predated other Holocaust denial groups in Australia. Although John Bennett, who is the Union’s motivating force, sits on the editorial advisory committee of the Journal of Historical Review published by the Institute for Historical Review in California, there is little real activity from this group, which maintains a content-thin website and produces annual editions of Your Rights.
In most cities, small groups of neo-Nazis, sometimes including violent skinheads, have come to attention during the past year. Racist skinheads not necessarily aligned to any formal organisation are known to be present in small numbers in cities and towns spread around Australia and have allegedly been involved in racist violence against Asian students and harassment of members of left-wing groups. Attempts to exploit these groups or direct their violence towards Jews and other minorities are common.
The far-right engage in seemingly endless power struggles, some ideological and tactical but more often personal. The fighting became particularly intense after One Nation enjoyed a brief period of electoral success and individuals, some of whom had decades of involvement in a variety of anti-immigration and/or neo-Nazi groups jockeyed for positions close to the levers of power. This was particularly evident in the machinations of the various Australia First movements, factions and individuals, during the period in review.
Antisemitic activity in Australia is often carried out by very small groups, or by individuals with loose connections to racist organisations but effectively operating on their own.
RESPONSES TO ANTISEMITISM
It is possible to address antisemitism through a legal and social regime which confronts racism, without being specifically identified.
In Australia this is the general rule, although through education and coalition building, antisemitism as a specific, archetypal form of racism is directly addressed.
Concern at racism has prompted a counter-reaction from a number of opinion leaders, including a number of serving politicians in state and federal parliaments. Most state and territory legislatures have passed motions condemning racism, calling for Reconciliation and affirming the values of tolerance and diversity, during the past six years.The Federal Government has instituted a National Harmony Day, on the United Nations Day for the Elimination of Racism, which is marked by government and the community in many ways, but is generally used to honour individuals and organisations who have been active in promoting Australian multiculturalism.
Parliamentary resolutions at national and regional level are extremely valuable as means of identifying antisemitic behaviour as anti-social and unacceptable. Speeches by Parliamentarians, which can focus on specific instances of antisemitism, are also important.
However, real political leadership is demonstrated through actions. To this end, Australia’s Federal Government has, in recent years, been prominent in international forums opposing antisemitism and promoting education against racism. The Federal and State governments have supported, through funding and other support, a range of projects of Jewish communal organisations designed to reduce prejudice. Laws have been enacted which provide a degree of recourse to victims of racism.
Politicians from the major political parties have repeatedly both condemned antisemitism and chastised their political opponents for not being sufficiently pro-active in combating antisemitism.
The good cooperation between different religious communities has been evident in recent years, with a number of joint statements condemning racism and intolerance, as well as supportive statements by one or another of the Australian religious denominations. The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the National Council of Churches in Australia and the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils have made a number of joint calls for tolerance. A number of Christian groups and the Baha’i faith have condemned antisemitic attacks and Jewish groups joined others in condemning racism against Australian Arabs and vilification of Muslims. This is in addition to the statements issued by groups from one or other religion/faith condemning racism and/or antisemitism, with Muslim groups such as Affinity, the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Committee, the Australian Intercultural Society and the Uniting Church prominent in this activity.
One of the important ways in which Church and service organisations assert moral leadership against antisemitism is by refusing to allow racist and anti-Jewish groups to hire their premises and having policies advising representatives to refuse to share platforms with known extremists. It is pleasing to report that extremist anti-Jewish groups are experiencing increasing difficulty in finding premises in which to meet and in convincing respectable Australians to participate in their activities.
One of the most encouraging recent developments in responding to antisemitism and racism is a broad spectrum of educational initiatives, coming from government, community organisations, the business sector and individuals. In January 2000 the Australian Government participated in the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust. Australia was one of the countries which endorsed the final Declaration which included commitments to strengthen “efforts to promote education, remembrance and research about the Holocaust” and to “promote education about the Holocaust in our schools and universities, in our communities and encourage it in other institutions” as part of the reaffirmation of “humanity’s common aspiration for mutual understanding and justice”. Australia subsequently participated in The Stockholm Forums on Combating Intolerance (January 2001) on Truth, Justice and Reconciliation (April 2002) and on The Prevention of Genocide (January 2004).
Together with the Government of Indonesia, Australia initiated Asia/Pacific Regional Interfaith Dialogues, with the inaugural Dialogue taking place in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in December 2004. The Dialogues have proven to be excellent opportunities for the promotion of programmes designed to break down inter-religious stereotyping and to promote co-operation in the cause of communal harmony. The second Dialogue was convened in Cebu, The Philippines, in 2006, the third in Waitangi, New Zealand, in 2007 and the fourth in Cambodia in 2008. The dialogues now have New Zealand and the Philippines as additional co-hosts.
The Community Relations Commission in NSW and equivalent bodies in other States have also taken strides in recent years to involve broad sections of the community and government in both planning and effecting strategies aimed at combating racism and building communal harmony.
Community organisations also increased activities particularly those directed at school-age Australians. These ranged from promoting visits to schools by articulate representatives of the broad spectrum of ethnic communities, visits to institutions such as the Sydney Jewish Museum and the production of teaching materials on tolerance and on the negative impact of racism.
The business sector has also promoted and published the results of research into public policy areas which had in past years often been the subject of confusion and misinformation, particularly immigration.
Individuals opposed to racism, operating alone or in very small groups, have found that the Internet allows them to make a significant contribution to efforts to restrict the ability of hate-mongers to take away from their victims’ quality of life. On newsgroups, a number of individuals devote time and energy to exposing the lies spread by antisemites and other racists. A number of web-sites have been developed which provide useful resources for having informed discussions on topics which are regularly introduced into Internet discussions by racists. These sites make available material which is also greatly beneficial to those combating racism in the general community.
Late in 1995, the federal government introduced legislation to give recourse to victims of racism. The law, administered by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, seeks to conciliate complaints of racial harassment and vilification. If conciliation is not achieved, hearings take place and penalties can be ordered. All four cases which were referred to public hearings, against the Adelaide Institute Web-site, anti-Jewish propagandist Olga Scully, The Nation newspaper and Bible Believers/ Anthony Grigor-Scott, have demonstrated the complexities of the process of resolving complaints under the original process, taking more than four years between the complaint and the adjudication. The process for complaint resolution has since been considerably streamlined. At the time of writing, Contempt proceedings against Fredrick Toben of the Adelaide Institute have commenced, but have not been heard in court.
All Australian States and the Australian Capital Territory had legislation supplementary to the Federal Act. Queensland also amended and greatly broadened and strengthened legislation in this field during the early part of 2001. The success and utility of these laws is a matter of on-going debate. Some shortcomings were brought in to focus in the attempts by a Melbourne victim of an antisemitic assault, in which the perpetrators were swiftly identified, to achieve recourse and have the victims appropriately penalised.
In most of the cases of antisemitism in the print media, the newspapers and magazines published views of readers offended by them in letters columns. However, this was not universal, and even when it occurred, the newspapers themselves rarely acknowledged any fault on their part by originally printing antisemitism.
Individuals who are the victims of some of the more extreme acts of antisemitic intimidation do have recourse to laws other than those specified above. A variety of sporting bodies have introduced anti-racism codes of conduct during recent years. The focus in all cases was also on “offensive language
APPENDIX: Samples of included material:
Assault and property damage:
• Jewish youths attacked, verbally then physically, in Melbourne street. (October 2007).
• Jewish men abused and assaulted in Sydney entertainment venue. (October 2007).
• Rocks and eggs thrown at congregants leaving synagogue in Sydney. (October 2007).
• A group of Orthodox Jewish walking home from synagogue in Sydney had eggs thrown at them. (October 2007).
• Jewish teenagers abused, threatened “fucking Jews we’ll kill you” and one of them was punched, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. (November 2007).
• An Orthodox Jewish man was verbally abused and punched in the face in street in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. (January 2008).
• Shopfront of Jewish food outlet in Melbourne smashed in rock attack. (January 2008).
• A Jewish teenager was hit in the chest by a bottle thrown from the car. (March 2008).
• Four Orthodox Jewish teens in Perth walking home from synagogue were verbally abused and physically assaulted, punched and kicked in an antisemitic attack. ( May 2008).
• Eggs thrown at group of Orthodox Jews in Melbourne street on night of Jewish religious festival. (June 2008).
• A student from a Jewish school in Sydney was abused, shoved and kicked in a shopping centre in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. (August 2008).
• Multiple eggs were thrown at people outside Jewish retail outlet in Melbourne, and by person shouting “Fucking Jews die”. (August 2008).
• A Jewish day school student in Sydney was followed by a car with a number of passengers, who followed her and yelled antisemitic epithets at her. (October 2007).
• Driver of a passing vehicle made “Heil Hitler” salute outside Jewish day school in Sydney. (October 2007).
• Passengers in vehicles passing synagogues in Melbourne yelled abuse at congregants. (October 2007).
• Passengers in vehicle passing synagogue in Sydney yelled “Jewish motherfuckers” at congregants. (November 2007).
• Occupant of car shouted “fucking Jews”, “Heil Hitler” and other comments at Jewish day school personnel in Sydney. (November 2007).
• Jewish mother with her children subjected to torrent of anti-Jewish abuse while walking in suburban Melbourne. (December 2007).
• Jewish woman trying to enter synagogue in Perth harassed and threatened by male on scooter. (January 2008).
• Occupants of car in Melbourne suburbs yelled “Bloody Jews, you killed Jesus” at identifiably Jewish man. (January 2008).
• Occupants of vehicle yelled “fucking Jews” at students entering Jewish day school in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. (March 2008).
• Abuse “kill all the Jews” yelled from passing vehicle at students attending Jewish day school in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. (May 2008).
• The driver of a vehicle outside a Jewish cemetery in Melbourne yelled “fuck off kikes” at women leaving the facility. (August 2008).
• A neighbour shouted “Fucking Jews, Hitler should have killed you all” at Jewish family in Sydney’s eastern suburbs (September 2008) Amongst the graffiti incidents in the past year were: * Graffiti of word “Jew” written on footpath in front of two Jewish-owned shops in Melbourne. (November 2007).
• The word “Jew” was stencilled outside a home of Jewish occupants in Sydney’s inner west. (November 2007).
• Two swastikas daubed near Jewish day school in Sydney. (December 2007).
• The word “Jew” and a swastika etched in panel at shopping centre in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. (December 2007).
• Graffiti “Kill all Jews” and “Jews are cunts” in public library in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. (January 2008).
• Swastikas daubed on synagogue in Melbourne. (January 2008).
• Swastikas daubed on kosher restaurant in Melbourne. (January 2008).
• Graffiti “Jewish Premises” daubed on street in Perth in front of house with a Mezuzah. (January 2008).
• Daubing of antisemitic graffiti on wall of factory in Sydney’s western suburbs. (February 2008).
• “SS” symbol daubed on Jewish communal institution in Sydney’s inner-east. (February 2008).
• A large swastika was scratched into the garage doors of a Jewish family in Melbourne. (March 2008).
• A swastika was etched into the paint of a parked vehicle belonging to a Jewish person in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. (April 2008).
• Graffiti “Dirty Jew” in Melbourne tertiary institution. (April 2008).
• A swastika was daubed on a car parked outside a synagogue in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. (May 2008).
• A swastika was daubed on the outer wall of a synagogue in Sydney’s eastern suburbs (May 2008).
• Swastika daubed on synagogue in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. (May 2008).
• Obscene antisemitic graffiti seen in sporting venue on Sydney’s north shore. (June 2008).
• A large swastika was daubed on a poster advertising a Jewish event, in suburban Melbourne. (June 2008).
• Swastika painted on the wall of a Jewish institution in Melbourne. (June 2008).
• A vehicle owned by a Jewish family in Melbourne had a swastiks painted on to its bonnet. (July 2008).
• Two large swastikas were daubed on a billboard in Perth advertising a Jewish person’s professional services. (July 2008).
• Vandals wrote antisemitic message on walls of Jewish sporting club in Melbourne. (September 2008).
Examples of email harassment and abuse included:
• Threatening e-mail “smell the gas mate, 88 Combat 18 is ready for you” sent to Jewish man in Sydney. (December 2007).
• Promotion of Holocaust denial and other anti-Jewish material e-mailed to Jewish institution and individual in Sydney. (February 2008)
• A long e-mail accusing Jews of fomenting “Race War” sent to Jewish institution and individual in Sydney. (April 2008)
• A long e-mail alleging today’s Jews are frauds and really Khazars was sent to a Jewish individual and a Jewish organisation in Sydney. (April 2008).
• E-mail attacking Jewish dietary laws and claiming Jews are “pathological LIARS and PROPAGANDIST EXTRAORDINAIRES” (sic) sent to Jewish organisation and individual in Sydney. (May 2008).
• A long antisemitic e-mail, which called on Christians to “rebuke the Jews and make them repent”, which had as an attachment a huge volume of overt anti-Jewish material received by Jewish institution and individual in Sydney. (May 2008) * A Jewish man in Melbourne received an e-mail addressed to “Mr Kike” which spoke about “the joo lies” about the “fake” Holocaust and to “kike bastards”. (June 2008).
• An e-mail from a person who openly admitted to being “antisemitic” received by Jewish communal professionals in Melbourne. The e-mail distorted Talmudic teachings and spoke of the need to use physical force to “drive” the Jews to “Canaan”. (June 2008)
• E-mail making Jewish/Nazi analogy received by Jewish organisation in Sydney. (June 2008).
• A 15-page Holocaust denial e-mail was sent to Jewish recipients in Sydney. (June 2008).
• Jewish organisation in Sydney received e-mail calling them “murdering Jews”. (August 2008).
• Antisemitic e-mail claiming all media is Jewish-controlled sent to Jewish organisations in Sydney, including references to “the Jew Josef Goebbels”, the “Jewish Weimar Republic” and arguing Christians have a duty to expose Jews”. (August 2008).
• E-mail calling Jewish community “bunch of thugs and murderers” received by Jewish organisation in Sydney. (August 2008).
• E-mail addressed to “you bunch of murdering Jews” sent to Jewish organisation in Sydney. (August 2008).
• Holocaust denial e-mail sent to Jewish organisations in Sydney. (August 2008).
• Anti-Jewish leaflet letterboxed in Sydney area with large Jewish population. (December 2007).
• Antisemitic abuse SMSed to private phone of Jewish man in Sydney. (December 2007).
• Bacon was stuffed in mailbox of synagogue in Melbourne. (January 2008)
• A photo of a Jewish man from Perth and a range of antisemitic slurs were posted on a publicly accessible website. (February 2008)
• Antisemitic poster making Jewish/Nazi analogy posted throughout Melbourne’s western suburbs. (February 2008) * A pig’s mask was glued to the gravestone of a Jewish person in a cemetery in northern Sydney. (March 2008)
• A leaflet alleging Jews are worse than Nazis, calling Jews “Holocaust traders” and “Zio-Nazis” distributed in inner Sydney. (April 2008).
• An antisemitic threat was posted on a Melbourne Jewish woman’s facebook page. (April 2008).