CANBERRA—An annual report on anti-Semitism compiled by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) shows an increase of almost 10 percent in racially motivated incidents against Jews in the past year, and almost 20 percent over the past two years.
The anti-Semitic incidents range from physical assaults, abuse and harassment; to vandalism, graffiti, hate and threats communicated directly by email, letters, telephone calls, and leaflets.
“That in itself is of concern,” Julie Nathan, ECAJ research officer and author of the report, told The Australian Jewish News.
“The Jewish community is the only community within Australia whose places of worship, schools, communal organisations and community centres need, for security reasons, to operate under the protection of high fences, armed guards, metal detectors, CCTV cameras and the like. The necessity is recognised by Australia’s law enforcement agencies and arises from the entrenched and protean nature of antisemitism in western and Muslim culture, resulting in a high incidence of physical attacks against Jews and Jewish communal buildings over the last three decades, and continuing threats,” she added.
ECAJ represents about 200 Jewish groups.
New South Wales recorded the highest number of incidents, 43 per cent of the total tally, followed by Victoria, 34 per cent, and Queensland, nine per cent.
While the number of “attacks” remain relatively unchanged, “threats” of anti-Semitism have increased markedly by 39 per cent – due mainly to an increase in anti-Semitic graffiti and posters.
“The most prominent change over the last 12 months in Australia has been the rise in extreme right-wing activity,” said Nathan.
Neo-Nazi group Antipodean Resistance was responsible for almost one quarter of the posters and stickers reported. Formed in October 2016, the group originates in Melbourne but has since spread across most states.
Nathan revealed that Antipodean Resistance has been involved in posting “thousands” of Nazi stickers and anti-Jewish, anti-homosexual and pro-Nazi posters, “especially at universities and other places visible to the public”.
“Some of the Antipodean Resistance posters express support for violence and murder, calling to “Legalise the execution of Jews” and for the killing of homosexuals, by shooting Jews and homosexuals in the head,” explained Nathan.
The white supremacist group has an online and social media presence, but the identities of their members are guarded.
In all photos posted on the group’s website, the faces of members are covered by a graphic bearing stark resemblance to the “death’s head” insignia of the Nazi SS Totenkopfverbande unit.
While Antipodean Resistance issue an online monthly action report, the activities described remain vague, including hikes and camps, for “training” where “white men learn how to defend themselves and their families”, in “a space for National Socialists to talk openly about their beliefs”, as they burn “enemy propaganda”.
At this stage, ECAJ has deemed Antipodean Resistance as a “serious concern rather than a solid threat”.
However, “It is very sobering that 70 years after the Shoah, the Jewish leadership and community are facing calls to execute Jews by Nazis,” Nathan added.
For ECAJ, ‘’for a diverse society such as Australia’s to be socially cohesive, it is imperative that those in positions of influence within Australia publicly condemn anti-Semitism and other forms of racism, and support legal and other measures to counter all forms of racism, especially those which involve violence or advocacy of violence.”