Anti-Semitic incidents rise by 5 percent in Australia

SYDNEY (JTA) — Anti-Semitic incidents in Australia rose by 5 percent over the previous 12-month period, according to a new report.

Jeremy Jones, a former president of the Executive Council of Australia Jewry, released data this week showing that during the 12-month period from October 2011 to September 2012, there were 543 incidents of “racist violence” against Jewish Australians documented by Jewish organizations.

“These incidents included physical assaults, vandalism and harassment,” Jones said. “This was a 5 percent increase over the previous 12-month period, and 42 percent above the average of the 22 years previously for which I have maintained a national database.”

Jones said the most disturbing incidents included the smashing of synagogue windows, verbal and physical assaults of Jewish students, Jewish people being pelted with eggs and other objects while walking to synagogue, and comments yelled at Jewish people in Australian streets such as “Hitler didn’t do his job properly” and “It’s a pity that the Germans didn’t burn the lot of you.”

While he said that the effect of anti-Semitism on the quality of life of individual members of the 110,000-strong Australian Jewish community “should never be minimized,” he stressed that modern Australia is “less engaged in pondering whether Jews are legitimately ‘insiders’ or ‘outsiders’ than virtually any other Christian [or Muslim] majority state."

“Each day there are millions of social interactions between Jews and Australians who are not Jews, and they are unexceptional and unlikely to involve confrontation or conflict,” Jones said.

The annual report on anti-Semitic incidents in Australia is usually released in early December. This year, however, it was delayed and released to coincide with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jan. 27.

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