Anti-Semitic incidents in Australia have reached record levels, according to a new report.
Jeremy Jones, a former president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, told the annual general meeting of the umbrella organization on Monday that 652 reports of anti-Jewish violence, vandalism, harassment and intimidation were recorded by Australian Jewish organizations between Oct. 1, 2007 and Sept. 30, 2008.
The unprecedented results were a 2 percent increase over the 638 incidents recorded between 2006 and 2007.
â€œThe latest 12-month period saw the highest-ever tally, at a rate close to twice the average of the previous 18 years,â€ said Jones, who has produced an annual report on anti-Semitism in Australia since 1989, in a statement.
Among the most severe instances of anti-Semitism cited in the new report were 58 incidents of physical assault, including Jewish youths who were attacked in Melbourne in October 2007; a Jewish teenager who was punched and vilified in Sydney in November 2007; an Orthodox man who was abused and punched in the face in Sydney in January 2008; and four Orthodox Jews in Perth who were physically assaulted in May 2008.
Jones, who is also the director of community affairs for the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, told JTA that although there were no firebombings of synagogues this year, there was a â€œworrying increaseâ€ in assaults on, and harassment of, Jewish families walking to and from synagogue.
The report also notes there is â€œcause for genuine concernâ€ about online communities such as Facebook and the video sharing site YouTube, where â€œcrude and intense anti-Jewish prejudice is being expressed openly and unashamedly.”
But, Jones added, â€œThe situation seemed to improve, if moderately, in most other areas, such as the media, political life and among extremist groups.â€