Although the 425 reports of
anti-Jewish violence, vandalism, harassment and intimidation logged in Australia in 2004 represented a decline from 2002 and 2003, the number of incidents remains
the third highest on record. The Federal Parliament and the parliaments of the
two most populous states unanimously adopted resolutions condemning
antisemitism and calling for local and international action. Two new complaints
against antisemitic activities were lodged by the Jewish community under
federal Racial Hatred laws.
The 115–120,000 Jews in Australia out of a total
population of over 20 million constitute the largest Jewish community in the East
Asia Pacific Region. The great majority of Australian Jews live in Melbourne
(50,000) and Sydney (45,000), but there are also significant communities in Perth, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Adelaide.
representative organization of the Jewish Community is the Executive Council of
Australian Jewry (ECAJ). The community is served by two Jewish weeklies and
several other periodicals. High enrolment in Jewish day schools and a
comparatively low rate of intermarriage are characteristic features of
Australians have twice been appointed governors-general, the country’s 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.
A plethora of groups in Australia promote antisemitism, and for some it is their raison d’être. The
groups vary greatly in membership, activities and target audiences. It should
be noted that, besides extreme right organizations, some groups identified with
quasi-New Age, Libyan-inspired ‘Third Way’ and Islamist philosophies, also feed
a steady stream of anti-Jewish propaganda to their followers, while a number of extreme left-wing groups have disseminated crude anti-Zionist material and actively promoted the analogy of Jews with Nazis.
The Far Left
Although the many small groups
which comprise the Australian far left often make declarations critical of
racism in all its forms, demonization of Israel is a common thread and the
extremes of language used to condemn Zionism and Israel promote a mythology of
a powerful and evil Jewish ‘internationalism’, almost indistinguishable from
that depicted by the far right.
The myth of
Jewish power, wielded nationally and/or internationally, is espoused and/or
tolerated by a number of self-styled left-wing groups. Alleged Jewish power is
depicted as the force behind globalism; some left-wingers also depict Jews as
malevolent forces controlling western governments. A number of small political
groups which describe themselves as communist, socialist or anarchist, such as
the Socialist Alliance, the Communist League, the Communist Party of Australia
and Socialist Alternative, share with the far right a vigorous opposition to
the ‘establishment’ and the perceived power holders. Although there are some
differences in the approach to Israel taken by these groups, the general
attitude is that Israel, and sometimes, more ambiguously, the Jewish community,
is clearly in the camp of their enemies and therefore a fair target for abuse,
delegitimation and defamation.
Most far left
groups invoke the Nazi Holocaust in their attacks on Jews and Israel. For example, the Socialist Alternative, openly opposes Israel’s existence and
promotes the myth that ‘Zionists’ worked ‘hand in hand’ with the rulers of Nazi
Germany (Socialist Alternative, 2 June 2004) and The Guardian,
published by the Communist Party of Australia, includes direct analogies
between Israel and Nazi Germany (see, for example, 15 Sept. 2004).
Some far left
groups such as the Socialist Alliance have made common cause with
extreme anti-Israel Islamist groups, which promote social and economic agendas
which supposedly would be repugnant to social progressives.
Extreme Right and Religious Groups
Traditional far right-wing
organizations are supplemented by a changing array of individuals and minute
groupings, including some which have established their presence primarily through
their activities on the Internet. The existence of Labour state governments in
all Australian states has fed the paranoia of ‘socialist’ control which is
central to these organizations.
Nation party, which enjoyed a brief period of electoral success in the late
1990s but has been in decline ever since, still had representatives in the
Federal Senate (until 30 June 2005) and in the parliaments of Western Australia
and Queensland, as well as a small number of active members. In 2004, both the
Western Australian and Queensland branches were criticized publicly for
promoting antisemitism, the former via its web page and the latter through a
blatantly antisemitic article and an accompanying cartoon in their party
newspaper The Nation.
The theme of Judaism as anti-Christian plays a part
in the conspiracy theories of several extremist groups, such as the Australian
League of Rights, the Adelaide Institute, the British-Israel World Federation,
‘Identity’ churches and some self-styled Biblical Fundamentalists. 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 symbolizes a code
of living implacably opposed to ‘Christian justice’. During the year such
misrepresentations appeared in leaflets, hate mail and abusive telephone calls,
and were evident in much cross-borrowing from the Internet.
site Bible Believers, published a full copy of Henry Ford’s The
International Jew and a great deal of other overtly antisemitic material,
resulting in a complaint being lodged under Australia’s anti-racism laws for
adjudication in the Federal Court.
Institute, a loose conglomeration of individuals around self-styled
Holocaust revisionist Fredrick Toben, has in recent years disseminated arguably
the most vicious and malicious anti-Jewish propaganda of any Australian group.
Despite a series of findings by the Human Rights Commission and the Federal
Court against the Institute’s website, Toben continued to publish antisemitic
material and sought to maintain an international profile, with support from
state-sponsored Iranian media.
Electoral Councils (CECs), based in suburban Melbourne, engage in mass
mailings of literature reflecting the antisemitic conspiracy theories of their
guru Lyndon LaRouche. Anti-racist groups in general and Jewish organizations in
particular have been amongst the CECs’ favorite targets. Although the LaRouche
organization spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on electoral campaigns,
the CECs have had no success whatsoever. Throughout the period in review,
members of the Jewish community in all Australian states complained about
activities of LaRouchite propagandists distributing conspiracy theorist
propaganda, particularly on campuses.
Civil Liberties’ Union (ACLU) continued to advocate Holocaust denial. John
Bennett, the Union’s motivating force, sits on the editorial advisory committee
of the Journal of Historical Review, published (but temporarily suspended)
by the Institute for Historical Review in California.
skinheads not necessarily aligned to any formal organization are present in
small numbers in cities and towns throughout Australia and have allegedly been
involved in racist violence against Asian students and harassment of members of
left-wing groups. Attempts by extremists, notably, those identified with
National Action over the years, to exploit these groups or direct their
violence toward Jews and other minorities are common.
In the period
in review, a number of the most virulent far-right wing activists participated
in discussions on Stormfront Downunder Internet discussion groups.
Representatives of White Pride Coalition of Australia, the Australian
Nationalists Movement, Church of the Creator and Australian National Action
jostled for authority on that neo-Nazi website.
The newspaper The
Strategy, published in regional Victoria, draws inspiration from the
US-based racists of the Patriot Movement. Extracts from LaRouche news services,
the antisemitic US magazine Spotlight and praise for the activities of
Australian right-wing extremists are typical, while a cross-section of
extremist groups places advertisements in its pages.
Evidence, formerly Exposure, continues to publish bizarre conspiracy
theories, some antisemitic, and aggressively advertises past copies of the
magazine, which include material of Australian and US far right groups and
publications, as well as antisemitic tracts such as The Protocols of the
Elders of Zion. Several New Age
magazines, such as Nexus and New Dawn, promote extreme right
writers, organizations and conspiracy theories.
During 2004, the ECAJ logged 425
reports of anti-Jewish violence, vandalism, harassment and intimidation. Although
the total was down from 2002 and 2003 (when 625 and 500 incidents were
reported, respectively), it was still close to twice the average for the
previous 15 years, when the national database came into operation.
of the incidents were threats rather than physical attacks on persons or
property, they reveal that hundreds of Jewish individuals and organizations
were targeted, some many times over, by persons seeking to frighten or harass
them. Most of the attacks were anonymous.
antisemites or those associated with far left publications and extreme right
organizations may have been the sources of inspiration or justification for
these attacks. The Internet facilitated anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, which
occasionally reached the mainstream media and broad audiences. The virulence of
some public criticism of Israeli actions, as well as continued
misrepresentation of those actions and of Israel’s history and politics served to
encourage and rationalize anti-Jewish bigotry.
Violence, Vandalism, Harassment and Insults
Incidents of assault, arson and
vandalism in 2004 were recorded at a rate of just above the average of the
previous 14 years, but well below the previous three years. The combined number
of incidents involving physical assault, property damage, vandalism, graffiti
and face-to-face harassment was 28 percent above average. Threats, conveyed by
telephone, mail, leaflets, posters or e-mail, were recorded at a rate of almost
50 percent above the previous average.
anti-Jewish graffiti were reported at 15 percent above the annual average.
There has been a continuous increase in reports of e-mail harassment. There is
no discernible difference in the themes contained in e-mail messages from those
sent through the postal service or communicated by telephone.
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. However, it is generally responsible
and does not play unduly on the ‘Jewishness’ of individuals or of issues. There
are no overtly antisemitic radio stations, newspapers or television
broadcasters with any general audience; however, some comments and letters in
mainstream publications in 2004 contained antisemitic references. They included: a direct comparison between “what
the Nazis did and what Israel is doing” (a letter in the Melbourne Age,
15 Feb. 2004); the claim that Jews persecuted early Christians and “if
post-Holocaust history has taught us anything, it is that the persecuted can
very easily become the persecutors themselves” (in a review of Mel Gibson’s
film The Passion of the Christ, in Brisbane’s Courier-Mail, 26
Feb. 2004); the statement, “while some of the Jews are manipulating world
opinion by harping on about the past others are busy building walls and taking
pot shots at Palestinian children” (letter in The Bulletin, 9 March
2004); the suggestion, “I wonder whether the Israeli lobby is becoming too
strong for Australia’s democratic health” (letter in The Age, 6 May
2004); and an opinion piece criticizing “the appalling little man in the White
House” who refused to condemn “Israel and its equally appalling government…
with relentless savagery, week after week, month after month, year after year…
stealing another country and assassinating its people” (Sydney Morning
Herald, 29 May 2004). In smaller and regional newspapers, even more freedom
was permitted to correspondents with extremist views.
There were also
concerns about Internet bulletin boards associated with mainstream media.
Examples included “This is Israeli democracy, where all Jews are created equal,
and Palestinians are animals without rights (The Age online, 3 May
2004); a web columnist writing that “the fundamentalist Zionist lobby controls
politics and the media in the US and Australia” (Sydney Morning Herald
online, 26 July 2004), and a reference to “primitive Talmudic pig like Sharon”
in a letter (Canberra Times online, 30 Sept. 2004). Moreover, the SBS television
website provided a link to the racist Australian Nationalist Database (12 Sept. 2004).
On radio, a presenter
in Sydney, who was attempting to be humorous, referred to a person she felt was
miserly as “you Jew” (2UE, Kayley Harris, 21 June 2004).
Arab and Muslim Communities
community is large and vibrant. While Jews are not a major concern or
pre-occupation for this community, discussion of the Middle East can cross the
line from lively political debate to the realm of religious and racial
Arabic-speaking and the Islamic communities are served by a vigorous media, in
Arabic and English, which generally avoid inflammatory or offensive language,
but reflect the existence of extremist and antisemitic viewpoints within the
communities they serve. For example, the publication Nida’ul Islam,
which is available on the Internet and as a glossy magazine, prints extreme
views of members of the Islamic community in Australia and from a range of
overseas commentators. The tone towards Jews is often hateful and inflammatory.
Much of the material published in Nida’ul Islam infers the existence of
an anti-Islamic conspiracy run by Jews but allegedly also includes most rulers
of Arab and Islamic states.
During the year
in review the May-June issue of Salam, the magazine of the Federation of
Australian Muslim Students and Youth, included articles on the “false
delusions” of the Jews who allegedly used all “efforts to obstruct the message
of Islam,” as well as on “the inevitability of the Islamic Solution”; the
latter article concluded: “the Quran said ‘never will the Jews nor the
Christians be pleased with you till you follow their religion’.” It also
publicized the sale of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in an Islamic
bookshop in Sydney and an antisemitic campaign run by extremist Muslims in
Sydney and Melbourne as part of attempts to raise funds for a new mosque.
Antisemitic individuals and
groups in Australia have been quick to appreciate the possibilities of the
Internet, which has provided them with a great volume of defamatory literature
and the facility to reproduce ‘state of the art’ antisemitism. The submission
of pieces from Australia defaming Judaism in online discussion groups of
religion, which began in 1994, continued throughout the period in review.
discussions on Islamic and Arabic Internet forums and the content of postings
to newsgroups testify to a vigorous anti-Jewish sub-culture. For example, the Islamic
Sydney forum hosts postings which claim: that ‘Jewish power’ in the US was
the cause of most, if not all, of the world’s problems; that antisemitism has
“nothing to do with Jews or Judaism”; and that Jews donate to American
political parties on the basis of which party “allows Israel a free hand to
drench the soil of peace in the Holy Land with Arab Christian and Muslim
blood.” A Sydney academic posted a promotion of Jewish History, Jewish
Religion, by the fanatical anti-Zionist Israel Shahak, with an alleged
quote from Ariel Sharon, stating: “We, the Jewish people, control America, and
the Americans know it.”
right-wing groups have also used Internet discussion groups to maintain their
sense of community, and to encourage followers to be involved in campaigns. A
number of far right wing groups are only visible due to their web presence.
In both 2003
and 2004, e-mail accounted for more than half the number of incidents of
anti-Jewish harassment and intimidation. It was also revealed in 2004
that the most popular search engine in Australia produced antisemitic links for the search term ‘Jew’. After a complaint from the Executive
Council of Australian Jewry, the results were changed.
TOWARD THE HOLOCAUST AND THE NAZI ERA
Although there is little evidence
to suggest Holocaust denial has an impact on the way the Holocaust is taught or
has any influence on scholars or scholarship, the dissemination of material
which offends, ridicules and intimidates Holocaust survivors and the families
of survivors, is a key activity of extreme right-wing elements in Australia.
Typical behavior of Holocaust deniers is to write letters to newspapers requesting
a debate on the facts of the Holocaust or asserting that since one or more
details relating to the Holocaust is not correctly understood, a massive fraud
has been perpetrated on humanity by those who can benefit from it. They also
promote material for journalists, students and others claiming that they are
being denied a fair hearing of ‘the truth’ or send Holocaust denial material
directly to individuals who have been identified as survivors or descendants of
survivors of the Nazi Holocaust. The Australian Justice Fund, for example, leafleted a Sydney suburb housing a large number of Holocaust survivors with material promoting Holocaust denial.
TO ANTISEMITISM and racism
Official and Public Activity
In the first half of 2004, the
Federal House of Representatives, the Federal Senate, the NSW Parliament and
the Victorian Parliament, all formulated strongly worded resolutions condemning
antisemitism, with the federal houses of parliament instructing the diplomatic
service to take up the matter at multilateral and bilateral international
have prompted responses from opinion leaders, including 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 five years.
government has instituted a National Harmony Day, on United Nations Day for the
Elimination of Racism, which is marked by government and the community in
various ways, but is generally used to honor individuals and organizations
active in promoting Australian multiculturalism.
between different religious communities was evident in the period in review
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 ECAJ, the National Council of Churches in Australia and the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils repeated a joint call for tolerance.
important proponents of diversity and tolerance, often in concert with the
Jewish community. The Uniting Church in Australia is continuing to explore ways
of taking joint action with the Jewish community to combat prejudice. The
Catholic Church promoted inter-religious and multi-faith understanding as a
particular focus in the lead up to the year 2000 and continues to promote
tolerance and understanding. Relations between the Anglican Church and the
Jewish community also seemed to be improving.
One way in
which church and service organizations assert moral leadership against
antisemitism is by refusing to allow racist and anti-Jewish groups to hire
their premises and advising representatives not to share platforms with known
extremists. As a result 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.
Australia participated in all four Stockholm forums against intolerance since their inception in
2000, as well as the Durban UN World Conference Against Racism and members of
the Jewish community have been on the official Australian government
delegations at all five of these events.
2004 the Australian and Indonesian governments co-hosted a major regional
inter-governmental meeting to promote inter-religious cooperation for tolerance
and against extremism. The Australian government and the New Zealand government both included Jewish community representatives.
course of 2004 there was active collaboration, particularly in youth interfaith
projects, between leading Jewish, Christian and Muslim organizations, both
federally and in the states of New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.
While no new matters relating to
antisemitism were determined under Australia’s anti-racism legislation, two new
complaints were lodged with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
in 2004, namely, concerning the publication of overtly antisemitic
material on the website of the Bible Believers organization and in the Queensland newspaper of the One Nation Party.