Anti-Semitic incidents in Australia hit record high

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — Anti-Semitic incidents in Australia have reached record levels, according to an annual report.

Australian Jewish organizations have received 962 reports of anti-Jewish violence, vandalism, harassment and intimidation between Oct. 1, 2008 and Sept. 30, 2009, according to Jeremy Jones, the international and community affairs director for the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.

Jones, addressing the annual conference of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry on Sunday, also noted a decrease in the number of physical assaults on Jews.

His 144-page report reveals that the latest technology was being employed to “spread ancient hatred” and that “rhetorical red lines” had been crossed, especially by the political left, which had engaged in comparisons of Jews and Israelis to Nazis.

Jones, who has been collating data on anti-Semitic incidents since 1989, said the latest 12-month period saw the “highest ever tally of reports of anti-Jewish violence, vandalism, harassment and intimidation, at a rate more than twice the annual average, mainly due to new peaks in abuse and harassment in public streets and via e-mail.”

Israel’s operation in Gaza last January sparked “unprecedented levels” of anti-Jewish e-mails and public abuse, he added.

But Jones noted a “marked decrease” in reports of physical violence against Jewish individuals and property, and said the extradition request by Hungary for alleged Nazi war criminal Charles Zentai and the Federal Court contempt hearing for Holocaust denier Fredrick Toben had been “passionate without being racially abusive.”

Jones, a former president of the Executive Council, said “It is important to emphasize that my research over 20 years indicates Australians are fundamentally tolerant and opposed to discrimination, vilification or harassment of Jews and other segments of the population, but that a relatively small number of fanatic and offensive individuals are increasingly active in trying to diminish the quality of life of Jewish Australians.”

 

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