VIDEO - Anti-Semitic videos posted by an Australian man, Brendon O'Connell from Perth, on YouTube have sent shockwaves through the Jewish community in the city.
O'Connell, 39, was arrested Thursday and is set to appear before a court next week and be charged with conduct likely to incite animosity or racist harassment. If convicted, he faces a possible maximum penalty of 14 years in prison plus a fine of $18,000.
The affair began about 10 days ago, during a rally held by a number of members of the "Friends of Palestine" group outside a local grocery selling fruits from Israel. Several Jewish students from the Australian Union of Jewish Students arrived at the place to stage a counter-rally, and were then confronted by O'Connell.
"He pulled out a video camera and started yelling at us," recounted Stanley Keiser, the union's president. "We soon entered into a heated debate and very soon he began making anti-Semitic slurs.
"He said that the Jewish religion preaches murder, that we are a bunch of blood-thirsty murderers… and that we want to wipe all the non-Jews off the map," said Keiser. "I asked him whether he was denouncing Israel's actions or if he's simply an anti-Semite. He said he was anti-Jewish. At this point I realized that I'm dealing with a certified anti-Semite," he added.
Keiser also said that at some point the confrontation escalated even further and O'Connell punched him in the face.
'People literally cried'
Two days later a member of the Jewish community encountered one of O'Connell's videos on YouTube and contacted the police, which found dozens other racist videos in his home.
According to Tal Dror, the Jewish Agency emissary to Perth, "Things calmed down after he was arrested, but before that the reactions in the community were terrible. People literally cried when they saw the video on the internet. They said they didn't know such things still existed, certainly not in Australia."
According to Tal, "This is a small community numbering 4,000-6,000 members, and anti-Semitic harassments are very rare. People are pleased with the way the police handled the affair and don't feel threatened. I just hope that this person doesn't try to hurt innocent Jews before his trial."