reports of anti-Jewish violence, vandalism, harassment and intimidation logged
in Australia in 2006 represented the third highest total since national record keeping
began and was more than 55 percent above the previous average. A disturbingly
large volume of overt antisemitic propaganda emanated from Islamic sources in Australia. One complaint of antisemitic propaganda was settled under Federal Racial Hatred
legislation and one of harassment under state legislation.
The Jewish community
Jews in Australia out of a total population of over 20 million constitute the
largest Jewish community in the East Asia and 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.
The elected 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 characterize Australian
Jewry. The community has also built an impressive network of institutions to
serve its needs. Jewish Australians have twice been appointed governors-general,
and have served in the senior leadership ranks of the country’s military
A plethora of
small groups in Australia promote antisemitism, and for some it is their raison
d’être. The groups vary in size of membership, activities and target
audiences. Besides extreme right organizations, some groups identified with
quasi-New Age and Islamist philosophies also feed a steady stream of
anti-Jewish propaganda to their followers, while a number of extreme left-wing
groups disseminate crude anti-Zionist material.
The Far Left
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, evil Jewish ‘internationalism’, almost indistinguishable
from that depicted by the far right.
The myth of Jewish power is espoused and/or tolerated by a number of self-styled
left-wing groups. Alleged Jewish power is depicted as the force behind
globalization; some left-wingers also portray Jews as malevolent forces
controlling Western governments. A number of small political groups self-styled
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 the
‘enemy’ and therefore a fair target for abuse, delegitimation and defamation.
Extreme Right Organizations
Traditional far right
organizations are supplemented by a changing array of individuals and minute
groupings, including some that exist mainly on the Internet. The existence of
Labor state governments in all Australian states has fed the paranoia of
‘socialist’ control which is central to these organizations.
The One Nation party, which enjoyed a brief period of electoral success
in the late 1990s but has been in decline ever since, was reduced to minimal representation
in the parliaments of Western Australia and Queensland, as well as in active
membership. An antisemitic article in The Nation, a party newspaper,
published in 2004 was the subject of a complaint under Federal Racial Hatred
legislation, which concluded in 2006 with the paper’s editor issuing an apology and the
individuals responsible for its publication reprimanded. However, other organs
of the party, in Queensland and South Australia, published anti-Jewish material
during the period in review (see below).
The theme of Judaism as anti-Christian plays a part in the conspiracy
theories of several extremist groups, particularly the Australian League of
Rights, the Bible Believers, ‘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 misinformation appeared in leaflets, hate mail and abusive
telephone calls, and was evident in cross-borrowing from the Internet.
The Bible Believers’ website published a full copy of Henry Ford’s
The International Jew and a great deal of other overtly antisemitic
material, resulting in a complaint which was lodged in 2004 under Australia’s anti-racism laws for adjudication in the Federal Court. The Bible Believers’
Newsletter 414 (first posted on 30 Jan 2004 and still online throughout
2006) included the claim that the Internet is a Jewish plot.
The Adelaide 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
continues to publish antisemitic material and to maintain an international
profile, with support from the state-sponsored Iranian media. Toben and his
associate Richard Krege both presented papers at Iran’s Holocaust denial
conference in December 2006. A website based in Adelaide, Australia Free Press,
containing a great deal of similar propaganda, was reportedly considering
taking over publication of Toben’s material in the event that the Adelaide
Institute is unable to continue functioning if Toben is unsuccessful in his defense
against a claim that he has breached court orders by continuing to publish
The Citizens’ Electoral Councils (CECs), based in suburban Melbourne, engage in mass mailings of literature reflecting the antisemitic conspiracy
theories of their American 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. Over
the years, members of the Jewish community in all Australian states have
complained about the distribution of LaRouchite conspiracy theorist propaganda,
particularly on campuses.
The Australian Civil Liberties’ Union (ACLU) continued to propagate
denial of the Holocaust, while attempts by extremists, notably, those identified
with National Action, to exploit disaffected youth and attack Jews and other
minorities are common (see ASW 2005).
Virulently far right activists, including members of White Pride
Coalition of Australia, White Nationalist Resources, the Australian
Nationalists Movement, Church of the Creator, the National Socialist Movement
and Australian National Action, participate in discussions in forums of the
neo-Nazi Stormfront Downunder site.
The newspaper The Strategy, published in regional Victoria, draws its inspiration from US-based racists of the Patriot Movement. Extracts
from LaRouche news services and the antisemitic US magazine Spotlight,
as well as praise for the activities of Australian right-wing extremists typify
its content; a cross-section of extremist groups also place advertisements in
its pages (see below).
Hard Evidence, formerly Exposure, continues to publish
bizarre, sometimes antisemitic, conspiracy theories, 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 2006, the
ECAJ logged 469 reports of anti-Jewish violence, vandalism, harassment and
intimidation. Reports of physical attacks on persons or property equaled the
highest ever total, while incidents of face-to-face harassment (not involving
violence) exceeded the previous highest total in 2003 by 30 percent; graffiti vandalism
was 8 percent higher than in the previous worst year (also 2003). The number of
telephone threats was also the highest since national record keeping began.
Hundreds of Jewish individuals and organizations were targeted, some several
times, by persons seeking to frighten or harass them. Most of the attacks were
Some of the most serious antisemitic incidents occurred
during the period during which Israel actively responded to Hamas and Hizballah
aggression (see below; for an analysis of the impact of this period on
antisemitism in Australia, see General
Antisemitic individuals or those associated with far left publications,
Islamic and Arab groups or extreme right organizations may have been sources of
inspiration or served as justification for these attacks. The Internet
facilitated anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, which occasionally reached the
mainstream media and broader audiences. The virulence of some public criticism
of Israeli actions and their continued misrepresentation, particularly regarding
Israel’s response to Hizballah provocation, as well as misinformation about Israel’s history and politics served to encourage and rationalize anti-Jewish bigotry.
Vandalism and Harassment
14 October members of the Australian Ocean Grove Football club shouted
antisemitic remarks at 33-year-old Menachem Vorchheimer and his children; when
he confronted them they grabbed his hat and skullcap and yelled that they
should go to the Nazis. Victorian police subsequently charged three men; the trial
opened in April 2007.
0n 5 April, a rabbi was attacked and insulted at the entrance to a
synagogue in southeast Melbourne. The assailant punched him in the chest,
pretended to pull out a gun and told the rabbi not to move or he would shoot. A
passer-by offered help and the assailant fled.
On 10 June, an explosion at the door of the North
Shore Temple Emanuel in Sydney disabled the intercom of the temple. Also, on 24
June, the Coogee synagogue in Sydney was broken into and vandalized, and the
ark and Torah scrolls damaged. NSW Premier Morris Iemma and Opposition Leader
Peter Debnam condemned the attack and some Christian groups conveyed their
support for the synagogue.
The Second Lebanon War was the apparent trigger for a
wave of vandalism of Jewish synagogues and related facilities. On 11 July the
Bentleigh Progressive synagogue in Melbourne was painted with antisemitic
slogans and other vulgarities, and bricks were thrown through the windows of
the Leo Baeck Center in Kew (Melbourne). On 30 July there was an attempt to set
fire to the Jewish youth center near the Mizrachi synagogue in Bondi, Sydney. Also
on 30 July, a concrete block was thrown through the window of the home of Rabbi
Yossi Wernick, adjacent to the Parramatta synagogue. His car windows were also
smashed. Witnesses reported about ten men of Middle Eastern appearance laughing
and running down the street. On 12 September, a swastika was painted on the
front door of the synagogue. On 22 August two windows on the front doors of the
Melbourne Hebrew Congregation were smashed.
issues relating to the Australian Jewish community by the mainstream media is
extensive and out of all proportion to the community’s size. Nevertheless, 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; however, some comments and letters in the
mainstream media in 2006 contained antisemitic and offensive references. In “Cartoonists
Draw Ire and Fire in Unholy War,” the writer commented “There’s also no
shortage of savagery done in the name of Judaism, masquerading as Israeli
self-interest” (West Australian, 11 Feb.). The Australian
(29 Feb.) printed a letter from a League of Rights activist, promoting
Holocaust deniers and their ‘findings’; discussing the movie X-Men: The Last
Stand, a critic on national radio JJJFM said Jews “used to be oppressed and
now they are oppressors” (1 June). During the Second Lebanon War, a letter writer
in The Australian (19 July) claimed, “a small band of very effective
Israeli and Jewish lobbyists” convinced Australian politicians to act against
Australian interests, while an anonymous letter in MX Sydney (18 Aug.)
alleged that Jewish people manipulate public sympathy to make “themselves,
their religion and their race beyond reproach.”
On Radio 6PR Perth, the host challenged listeners to differentiate
between Israel and Nazi Germany (17 July); moreover, a large number of letters
published mainly in metropolitan dailies during and after the war drew
analogies between Israel and Nazi Germany, including in the Canberra Times,
the West Australian, the Australian Financial Review, the Daily
Telegraph and the Age.
In a feature article in the Canberra Times (1 Aug.), an academic
depicted Palestinians as the moral heirs of the victims of Nazism and an
editorial cartoon in the Canberra Times claimed Israel’s “ammunition” in
its “war on Lebanon” was “Holocaust sympathies,” with an Israeli soldier
telling a colleague that they were “running low” on this (11 Aug.).
A front page article that appeared in the student newspaper of the
University of Western Sydney (UWS) on 27 February described Jews as blood
suckers, money grabbers and thieves. It was accompanied by cartoons, one of
which depicted the Jewish people as a giant squid drawing blood as it envelopes
the earth. Vice-Chancellor Janice Reid wrote to all 40,000 students and staff
condemning the article.
between Nazism and Zionism was made in the article “Sharon’s Departure Will Not
Change the Nature of Israeli-Palestinian Politics,” in the Communist Party of
Australia (Marxist-Leninist) newspaper Vanguard (25 Jan.). After criticizing
Australian leftists who supported Hizballah, a political commentator was
e-mailed comments including, “jewish zealots are as bad as Hizbollah and Al
Quaida let all of them burn [sic] (30 July). Leftist academic Evan Jones
opened his blog “Alert and Alarmed” with, “There is much Old Testament wailing
and gnashing of teeth amongst the Israeli establishment, but none of it is an
outpouring of guilt over the carnage inflicted on the Lebanese people…. the
angst in Israel regards the collective loss of face which must be redeemed in
classic Old Testament fashion” (3 Sept.).
In 2006, the
Beenleigh branch newsletter of One Nation carried pieces such as: “The Banking System which was foisted on this
country in 1694 & during succeeding years over most of the world has been
the main means by which the Zionists have brought misery & impoverishment
everywhere,” and “The plans to promote racial chaos in the Gentile world were
laid long ago. In 1850, Karl Marx (real name Moses Mordecai Levy) the son &
grandson of Jewish Rabbis, published his ‘Communist Manifesto’” (April). It
also published a blatantly antisemitic article on “Middle East War” which
included comments such as “Christ called the Jews ‘a generation of vipers’… Christ
also seemed to hold the Jews responsible for all the innocent blood shed from
the beginning of history” (Sept.). The South Australian Network News
update included “The days of trusting the Satanic-Jewish controlled Media,
Hollywood, Drug & Pharmaceutical Cartels, Banks and all their stooges and
fall guys working in politics, education, science etc etc are coming to an end.
More and more people are switching off the TV and communicating on the internet
etc” (15 May).
Strategy published texts such as “The Zionists/Judeo-Christians now in
control of the United States are traitors to the US Constitution... as well as
being mass murderers (March), and an editorial cartoon included a
caricature of John Howard with a large Star of David hat, and the caption “The
‘Financiers’ still rule with an iron fist” (April).
Arab and Muslim Communities
Australia’s Muslim and Arabic-speaking
communities are large and vibrant. While Jews are not their main
pre-occupation, discussion of the Middle East can cross the line from lively
political debate to the realm of religious and racial stereotyping; in fact, there
was a disturbingly large volume of overt antisemitism that emanated from
Islamic sources in Australia in 2006. Notably, the Australian Federation of
Islamic Councils, the roof body of Australian Muslims, is among the groups that
in the past publicly condemned antisemitism in the Islamic community. In 2006
the Islamic Council of Victoria was at the forefront of groups that condemned
antisemitic violence and vandalism.
Both the Arabic-speaking and the Islamic communities are served by a
vigorous media, both 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 now solely online
publication Nida’ul Islam 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 devised
by Jews but also including most rulers of Arab and Islamic states.
The web-based Mission Islam is, if anything, even more extreme. As
well as promoting The Protocols of Zion and various Muslim-authored
works hostile to Jews, the website of this group includes a section “The Truth
about the Talmud” which contains a list of sub-headings, such as “Sick and
Insane Teachings of the Talmud,” “Genocide Advocated by the Talmud” and “Moses
Maimonides: Advocate of Extermination.”
online forums of Islamic Sydney provide evidence of the proliferation of
antisemitic myths within the Australian Muslim community. In 2006, it included
threads such as “Why are Jews powerful” (3 April) and “It’s the Jews, stupid”
(16 July), alleging Jewish plots, calling George Soros “a multinational Jewish
Supremacist,” claiming “those that deny the reach and omnipresence of Jewish
influence in America today are either ignorant, delusional and/or complicit”
and referring to Jews as “devils”; in addition, “US support for Israel will end
in a ‘Holocaust’” (16 July), which included statements such as “The genocide
being inflicted upon Muslims by the Jews is not justified by the genocide that
was the Holocaust… the Zionists do not consider the life of a gentile equal to
that of a Jew”; and the Holocaust occurred as divine punishment for the Jews’
“mischief on earth” (19 July).
Similarly, depictions of Judaism as existentially opposed to non-Jews, in
general, and/or to Islam, in particular, continue to be published on the discussion
forums of the Islamic Association of Australia; Mission Islam (Australia);
Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah’s Islamic Information and Support Centre of Australia
and Mecca News.
In 2006, a number of Australian journalists exposed
the promotion of vicious antisemitic material circulating amongst Islamic youth
in Australia and the sale of books such as The Protocols of the Elders of
Zion at major bookstores serving the Islamic community.
of pieces from Australia defaming Judaism in online discussion groups of
religion, which began in 1994, continued throughout the period in review. As
noted above, the discussions on Islamic and Arabic Internet forums and the
content of postings to newsgroups testify to a vigorous anti-Jewish
sub-culture. Extreme right groups have also used Internet discussion groups to
maintain their sense of community, and to encourage followers to be involved in
In addition, local affiliates of the international Indymedia network are
the source of extremely anti-Israel and overtly antisemitic material. Sydney
Indymedia, for example, began publishing a “Weekly zio report” (16 April),
which repeatedly used the term “zionazi.” On 23 June, it posted the article
“Nazi Zionists Criminal Empire Must Be Exposed!” which referred to “John Howard
– the zionist slave,” and “the United Zionist States of America,” and made direct analogies between Israel and Nazi Germany. A posting, “The Gaza Strip and
Jewish Ideology” on Melbourne Indymedia (3 July) began: “Whether you love them
or hate them, Jews are nothing if not consistent… The first detailed record of
genocide (committed by Jews) is in the Old Testament… acts of barbaric atrocity
were not problematic for the Jews of history or today’s Israeli Jews it would
seem. One Jewish hostage, Gilad Shalit, and the State of Israel declares war –
is this an over reaction or just cultural consistency?” and concluded “Regardless
of the real reasons of such an extreme response from Israel one thing has been
demonstrated to the whole world, and that is the brutal racist, barbaric
ideology that is at the heart of Judaism.”
Antisemitic postings appeared on a number of Australian-based newsgroups,
including Active Sydney webcast news, aus.politics, aus.culture.true-blue,
aus.media-watch and soc.culture.australian.
In 2006, e-mail accounted for 37 percent of reports of anti-Jewish
harassment and intimidation, the lowest rate since 2001.
ATTITUDES TOWARD THE HOLOCAUST AND THE NAZI ERA
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 their families is a key activity of extreme right-wing elements
in Australia. Typical behavior of deniers is to write letters to newspapers demanding
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. Groups such
as the Australian International Justice Fund and the Adelaide Institute as well
as anonymous individuals 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 identified as survivors or
descendants of survivors of the Holocaust.
great concern is the equation of Israel’s behavior with that of Nazi Germany. During
the war with Hizballah, a number of mainstream media outlets disseminated the view
that Israel was, in effect, the contemporary version of Hitler’s Germany (see above). A prominent clergyman went so far as to refer to “ghetto-like”
conditions in Bethlehem during the course of a ceremony commemorating Kristallnacht.
He subsequently apologized.
RESPONSES TO ANTISEMITISM and racism
Official and Public Activity
racism 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 seven years. In September 2006, the
Senate condemned racism, with the title of the resolution, but not its text,
referring to antisemitism, and individual parliamentarians made statements
condemning antisemitism. National Harmony Day, on United Nations Day for the
Elimination of Racism, is generally marked by the government and by honoring
individuals and organizations active in promoting Australian multiculturalism.
Cooperation between religious communities in 2006 included joint actions
against racism and intolerance, among them a joint Jewish/Muslim/Christian
statement (19/10) issued following an assault on a Jewish man in Melbourne. Active collaboration continued, 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; a Christian,
Muslim and Jewish educational project “Children of Abraham,” visited a number
of non-metropolitan locations.
Churches were important proponents of diversity and tolerance, often in
concert with the Jewish community. The Uniting Church in Australia continues to explore ways of taking joint action with the Jewish community to
combat prejudice. The Catholic Church has been promoting inter-religious and
multi-faith understanding since the start of the new millennium. Relations
between the Anglican Church and the Jewish community also showed evidence of
Church and service organizations have been asserting moral leadership 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.
In July 2006 Shaykh Tajeddin al-Hilali, mufti of Lakemba Mosque, Sydney,
was dismissed from Prime Minister John Howard’s Muslim Community Reference
Groups because of sermons he had been delivering which included denial of the Holocaust.
He also referred to Israel as a cancer planted in the Muslim community. A
spokesperson for one Jewish organization in Sydney publicly appealed for action
to be taken under the Federal Racial Discrimination Act against al-Hilali.
Australia participated in all four Stockholm Forums against intolerance,
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.
In December 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 second Asia Pacific
Regional Interfaith Dialogue took place in Cebu, the Philippines, in March
2006, and the Australian and New Zealand governments both included Jewish
community representatives in their delegations.
hosting a presentation on antisemitism on university campuses, the Australian
Vice-Chancellors’ Committee issued a statement in which it “re-affirmed its
rejection of any form of racial vilification or discrimination on Australian
university campuses” (17 Nov.).
While no new
matters relating to antisemitism were lodged under Australia’s federal
anti-racism legislation, one complaint was settled and one court hearing
conducted in another. A complaint concerning the publication of antisemitic
material in The Nation, was settled on 6 February with a declaration
that “the conduct” was “unlawful” and the respondent was restrained from
publishing any similar material. A formal apology was also ordered.
Final hearings were conducted concerning a complaint against The Bible
Believers’ Anthony Grigor-Scott for publishing anti-Jewish material,
with the judgment reserved until 2007.
In the State of New South Wales, the Administrative Decisions Tribunal
found that Jewish complainants, who had been subjected to antisemitic insults
in 2004, had been the victims of unlawful behavior and fined the perpetrator.
On 1 November, the State of Western Australia amended its anti-racist
legislation to allow victims of “serious racial harassment” to seek “a public
apology and up to AUS$40,000 in compensation”.
In September, the first Australian case involving an antisemitic text
message sent from a cell-phone commenced in a Queensland court.