Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Australia: Record for anti-Semitic incidents

Australian Jews reported more anti-Semitic incidents in July than in any other month

Australian Jews reported more anti-Semitic incidents in July than in any other month since records began, according to the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ).


The news comes as Melbourne’s Yeshivah Centre, Beth Rivkah Ladies College and homes in the St Kilda East Bagel Belt were daubed with anti-Semitic graffiti last Friday night.


ECAJ immediate past president Jeremy Jones told the AJN that the July figure of 141 incidents, a five-fold increase on the number of incidents in an average month, was not yet finalized and “can go up or down.”


Jones said the rise in incidents reported to the ECAJ, including physical attacks, harassment and email and phone threats against Jews, reflected “media coverage of the Middle East Hezbollah conflict ... in which some red lines were crossed (on biased reporting)”.


He said the previous record of 131 incidents occurred in April 2002 following Israel’s response to Palestinian violence emanating from Jenin and media reports that the IDF had committed a “massacre” in the West Bank town.


But Jones warned that the statistics could portray a false picture as “each incident has been given equal weight” regardless of its severity.


A spate of synagogue fire-bombings in early 1991, although statistically fewer in number, was far worse in its impact on the community, he said.


Jones said a significant component of the July tally was phone threats.


Attacks in synagogues

In Melbourne, other incidents included a physical assault on an ultra-Orthodox man and graffiti attacks on two Progressive synagogues.


In NSW, the home of Parramatta Synagogue Rabbi Yossi Wernick was twice attacked, while anti-Semitic slogans were also found in a number of suburbs including Double Bay, Stanmore and as far as Wollongong and Coffs Harbour.


Jones said figures for August have not yet been compiled but, while they would be nowhere near July, are expected to be “above average”.


ECAJ president Grahame Leonard said it is important to emphasize that “the overwhelming number of reported incidents were minor in severity ... graffiti, hate emails and hate phone calls”.


The ECAJ has been keeping a national database of anti-Semitic incidents since 1989. But Jones doubted there had been a month with a higher number of incidents since the states began keeping records in 1945. 


Meanwhile, in Britain, Mark Gardner, a spokesman for the Community Security Trust, said that anti-Semitic incidents had risen threefold since the start of the conflict in Lebanon. July was the third-worst month on record, he said.


Reprinted with permission of the Australian Jewish News


פרסום ראשון: 09.06.06, 14:30
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