Sunday, December 31, 2006

Antisemitism in Australia 

Australia Jews feel 'threatened' by upsurge in anti-Semitic acts

By Daphna Berman
Thu., December 28, 2006 Tevet 7, 5767

Australia has experienced an upsurge in anti-Semitism in recent months and the country's Jewish community is feeling increasingly "vulnerable and threatened" as a result, a leading communal figure said this week.

"Schools, institutions and synagogues have been targeted relentlessly over the past few months," said Manny Waks, executive officer of the B'nai B'rith Anti Defamation Commission, a national organization that aims to combat anti-Semitism and racism.

"People [in Australia] are used to seeing swastikas here and there, but when it becomes systematic and often, people are concerned. Over the last few months, the Jewish community has felt vulnerable and threatened," he added.

According to a recent report on anti-Semitism in Australia, during the 12 months preceding September 30, 2006, more than 440 reports of anti-Semitic acts were received by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. The report also noted a sharp increase in the number of violent attacks against Australian Jews.

In the most recent incident in October, an ultra-Orthodox man was attacked in Melbourne by a group of footballers who allegedly screamed, "F... off Jews" and "Go Nazis." According to reports, he was attacked and punched in the face, in front of his two young children. The incident marked the fifth physical assault on a Jew in Australia in 2006.

Despite the rise, though, Waks said that cases of anti-Semitism in the United States and Europe "are much more severe" that in Australia.

"The Jewish community in Australia has it good and there is no question about it," he insisted. "But we need to be proactive about these issues."
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