Australian Jews suffered a record number of anti-Semitic incidents in 1994, according to a report recently released by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.
A total of 227 incidents were reported in 1994, an increase of 9 percent over 1993, the study said. Vandalism of synagogues, such as serious property damage, is a major cause for concern, the report said. The council also identified anti-Jewish posters and leaflets in public view as another type of incident on the rise.
Fewer reports were made in 1994 of violent incidents of vandalism and harassment than in the previous two years, the audit said.
But the most frequently reported type of incident was the receipt of threatening mail, often sent anonymously to private addresses.
The council concluded in the study: “Although most of the perpetrators have not been found, it appears to be more than a coincidence that a growing number of small, but vocal far-right wing groups have increased their public profiles in the past year.”
Council President Isi Leibler said, “It is difficult to comprehend the mentality of individuals who will telephone synagogue offices and say, `Hitler didn’t kill enough of you bastards,’ daub messages such as `Gas Jews – White Power’ in shopping centers, send letters claiming the Nazi Genocide was a myth invented by malicious Jews to men and women who personally suffered through the Holocaust.
“Yet there are individuals in the Australian community who have done all of these and many other acts of violence, vandalism and harassment, in the past year,” he said.
Recent studies in the United States and Canada found similar results. The Anti- Defamation League recorded 2,066 acts of anti-Semitism in the United States in 1994, more than in any of the 16 years that it has conducted its annual audit.
In Canada in 1994, a total of 290 anti-Semitic acts were reported, the highest number of anti-Semitic incidents in 13 years of documentation and an increase of nearly 12 percent from reported anti-Semitic acts in 1993, according to the Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, spearheaded by the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada.
The council also said in the study that it does “not believe Jewish Australians are the primary victims of the racist element which festers in our society.”