Aussie Jews upset over Shylock parallel


An Australian Jewish leader blasted a mayor’s bid to apologize for making anti-Semitic comments by invoking a Shakespeare character.

Greg Watson of Shoalhaven, a city south of Sydney, suggested at a heated public meeting last week that his citizens be a “good Jew” and “screw every last dollar” out of developers.

The mayor, who told ABC Radio his wife is Jewish, apologized and agreed to visit the Sydney Jewish Museum. Then on May 2, Watson tried to defend himself further by referring to Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” which featured the character Shylock the Jew stereotyping Jews as misers.

Vic Alhadeff, the CEO of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, blasted the mayor’s parallel.

“The fact that Councillor Watson followed up the initial offense by invoking Shakespeare’s Shylock character suggests that he fails to understand that his comments were racist,” Alhadeff said, “and that he also fails to appreciate the hurt and the damage that racism causes to Australian society as a whole.”

Shoalhaven city councillors dismissed the Jewish community’s outrage over Watson’s comments as a media build-up.

Councillor John Willmott responded to the furor by saying of Watson’s comments, “That’s OK, isn’t it? I’m from Jewish heritage and the Jews joke amongst themselves.”

Councillor Gary Kearney added to the storm of protest Monday by telling the South Coast Register, “We do know that Jewish businessmen are very determined when it comes to negotiating, very tough in bargaining.”





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