SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – Anti-Semitic incidents in Australia soared by more than a third in the past year.
The annual Report on Anti-Semitic Incidents in Australia, presented Sunday at the Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s yearly general meeting, logged 312 incidents between October 2013 and September 2014, about a 35 percent increase from 231 incidents the previous year.
Much of the increase was triggered by Israel’s operation against Hamas in Gaza this summer and encouraged by the hostile media it generated, according to the report.
Of great concern was that the number of physical assaults tripled, according to the report’s author, Julie Nathan.
Among the most serious incidents was an attack on a group of five Orthodox Jews in Bondi as they were walking home from Shabbat dinner. In Melbourne, a 28-year-old man wearing a T-shirt with Hebrew on it was assaulted and called a “Jewish dog” in Arabic. In Perth, a visiting rabbi was confronted by a gang who threatened him and surrounded his car. And in Sydney, young school students were threatened on a bus by a gang of drunken youths.
The report also cited unmoderated comments on the Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s website following the screening of “Stone Cold Justice,” a documentary that claims some Palestinian children were being physically abused by Israeli soldiers, forced into false confessions and targeted in order to gather intelligence on Palestinian activists. The comments were not removed for weeks until numerous complaints were made by the council, the report said.
It also cited an anti-Semitic cartoon published by the Sydney Morning Herald that provoked outrage from Jewish leaders and a threatened lawsuit before Fairfax Media printed an apology.
“When major media outlets, including the national broadcaster, are prepared to publish or host unsubstantiated claims and irrational bias that is combined with outright demonizing of Jews, a signal is sent that anti-Semitism is acceptable and even respectable,” Nathan wrote.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry has produced the annual report since 1989. In 2009, it logged a record 962 anti-Semitic incidents.