Australia sees 30% increase in anti-Semitic incidents

There has been a 30 percent increase over the last year in serious anti-Semitic incidents in Australia involving verbal abuse, harassment, and intimidation, according to the annual Report on Antisemitism in Australia.

There were 368 recorded anti-Semitic incidents in Australia during the year ending on September 30, 2019, according to the annual report, published this week by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, or ECAJ.

A photo showing a Jewish boy allegedly being forced to kiss a classmate’s feet is causing outrage in Australia. (Twitter via JTA)

The incidents were logged by the ECAJ, Jewish community umbrella organizations in each Australian state, and other Jewish community groups, and included physical assaults, abuse and harassment, vandalism, graffiti, hate, and threats communicated directly by email, letters, telephone calls, posters, stickers and leaflets. The total figure comprises 225 attacks and 143 threats.

“The overall number of anti-Semitic incidents continued at, and slightly exceeded, the unusually high number logged during 2018, which saw a 59 percent increase over the previous year,” says Julie Nathan, the ECAJ’s research director on anti-Semitism.

“Most disturbing were the reported incidents of anti-Semitic bullying of Jewish schoolchildren at two Victorian public schools, and the manifestly inadequate way in which the schools handled those incidents,” Nathan says.

In one incident, a 12-year-old student in Melbourne was forced by other schoolchildren to kiss the feet of a Muslim fellow student.

“More subtle, but just as concerning, was the spread of calumnies about Jews beneath the cloak of political discourse about Israel,” Nathan also says. “Examples include a university lecturer and the utterly false claim made by a professional teaching body in July that Israel persecutes Arabs because ‘they don’t follow the Jewish religion.’”

— JTA

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