Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Australian Anti-Semitism Report Reveals anti-Jewish Violence 

Spike in number of anti-Jewish incidents

Posted on 01 December 2009

AUSTRALIA has seen an alarming spike in the number of anti-Jewish incidents during the past year, according to new research released this week.

The 144-page Anti-Semitism Report revealed 962 accounts of anti-Jewish violence, vandalism, harassment and intimidation in the past 12 months.

“That’s more than twice the annual average. [It's] unprecedented,” said Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council’s director of international and community affairs and former ECAJ president, Jeremy Jones, who compiled the report.

He released his findings at the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) annual conference in Sydney on November 29.

“More than in any other 12-month period, Jewish-Australians walking to and from synagogue were abused by passing motorists, Jewish people were confronted with incitement against them in Australian cities, and abusive, offensive and intimidatory emails were received by Jewish-Australians at their homes and workplaces.”

Jones, who has been tracking anti-Semitic incidents in Australia for the past 20 years, also noted that anti-Jewish propaganda in fringe publications and from extremist organisations remains an “ongoing concern”.

The results were backed by testimonies from heads of Jewish security groups in both Sydney and Melbourne, who said they have also noticed a surge of incidents in recent years.

David Rothman, head of Sydney’s Communal Security Group, said: “Since 2001, there has been a yearly increase in anti-Semitic incidents, verbal abuse and assault that we see on the ground, and reports from the community.”

Amit Bar-Giora, head of Melbourne’s Community Security Group, added: “Although most of these incidents are not of a violent nature, the fact that there has been an increase is of a great concern. We ask [the community] to be alert to any suspicious activity and report them accordingly.”

On a more positive note, Jones disclosed a marked decrease in reports of physical violence against Jewish individuals and property — with 27 incidents reported this year, compared with 58 and 46 in the previous two years.

Telephone threats, hate mail and graffiti were also reported at “below average rates”.

“It is important to emphasise that my research over 20 years indicates Australians are fundamentally tolerant and opposed to discrimination, vilification or harassment of Jews and other segments of the population, but that a relatively small number of fanatic and offensive individuals are increasingly active in trying to diminish the quality of life of Jewish-Australians,” he said.

“Internationally, Australia scores very well as a successful multicultural society,” he added.

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