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Australia has succumbed to anti-Semitism

Jews have been abandoned by our politically correct elites.

Nick Cater
Columnist

Topics Politics World

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Two days after the 7 October massacre in southern Israel, a threatening, Jew-hating mob a thousand strong marched to the Sydney Opera House bearing placards branding Israel a ‘terror state’. The New South Wales Police stood impassively aside. The commanders who three years ago authorised force to break up anti-lockdown demonstrations ordered restraint this time around.

The police officers who formed a cordon on the steps of the Opera House had a ringside view of the ugliness unfolding in front of them. Flares were lit, illuminating the mob in a form of torchlight. Some flares were thrown on to the steps, landing behind the row of police. The Israeli flag was trampled upon and set alight.

The chanting grew increasingly anti-Semitic. Witnesses I have spoken to have no doubt what they heard. ‘Fuck the Jews’ and ‘Gas the Jews’ were screamed out by the crowd. These chants were captured on video many times, and the recordings have since been confirmed as authentic by police.

The police did make some arrests that night. One was of a man carrying an Israeli flag. The police have since tried to claim that he was taken into custody for his own protection.

Trouble had already started brewing the previous evening when a crowd gathered at Lakemba station in western Sydney to celebrate the Hamas attacks. ‘I’m smiling and I’m happy. I’m elated’, Sheikh Ibrahim Dadoun, a prominent Muslim cleric, told the crowd. ‘It’s a day of courage. It’s a day of pride. It’s a day of victory. This is the day we’ve been waiting for!’, he said. The mob responded with a chant of ‘Allahu Akbar’.

Initially, in the immediate aftermath of Hamas’s attack, New South Wales premier Chris Minns announced that the colours of the Israeli flag would be projected on to the sails of the Opera House on Monday night as a gesture of support. Jews and their supporters made plans for a quiet vigil. Ahead of the event, however, a senior police commander contacted Jewish community leaders, warning them to stay away for their own safety.

It is little wonder that Sydney’s Jewish community feels under siege. By warning them off the streets, the police were conceding that they couldn’t guarantee the safety of these Australian citizens on the grounds of their race and religion.

Jews have played a disproportionate part in Australian business and civic life. The Opera House, the resident Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Opera Australia rely heavily on the philanthropy of Jewish families for capital outlays and income. So too does the Sydney Theatre Company (STC), where in November three actors donned the Palestinian keffiyehs for curtain calls in a performance of Chekhov’s The Seagull.

Three STC board members resigned, donors withdrew support and patrons sought refunds on their tickets. In January, chairman Alan Joyce quit, saying he could not devote the time to fixing the financial mess caused by the estimated $1million loss in revenue.

In a letter to the Australian Financial Review, businessman and philanthropist Daniel Grynberg wrote: ‘We (Jews) in Australia have felt totally abandoned by the progressive left. The STC – which has done so very much to show care for so many other minorities and historically disadvantaged groups (First Nations, LGBTQIA, women’s voices) – has done precisely nothing to make this particular minority feel supported.’ It is hard to argue with that.

The left intelligentsia’s myopic anti-Israel views are now everywhere in the Australian cultural scene. Artists James Nguyen and Tamsen Hopkinson recently protested against what they see as Israel’s ‘violent settler colonisation’. They painted over their own work with black paint and turned the lights off at an exhibition at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Melbourne.

The anti-Israel movement has also colonised other protest movements. Pride in Protest, an LGBT activist group, will march in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade in early March under the banner ‘trans pride, not genocide’. The group says it will champion transgender rights while also ‘standing in solidarity with the people of Palestine against the colonial Zionist occupation, recognising the links between queer / trans struggle and the anti-colonial movements both in this country and abroad’.

The Australian media have similarly been gripped by anti-Israel fervour. More than 270 journalists signed a public letter in November declaring opposition to ‘both-sidesism’. Apparently, giving the Israeli point of view, or even just recognising that Hamas started the current conflict, ‘acts as a constraint on truth by shrouding the enormous scale of the human suffering currently being perpetrated by Israeli forces’. Journalists from the ABC, Guardian Australia and the Age were among the signatories.

Compounding the sense of abandonment in the Jewish community is a shift in the position of the governing Labor Party, which under prime minister Anthony Albanese has moved from unqualified support for Israel to equivocation.

Albanese represents an inner-metropolitan seat in Sydney contested by the Greens. He’s a former leader of the parliamentary Friends of Palestine group. He would also be acutely aware of the importance of his support of Muslim communities. While Muslims account for less than four per cent of the Australian population, they have a disproportionate influence on Labor. Eleven of the party’s 77 federal MPs represent seats with Muslim populations of 10 per cent or more.

Foreign minister Penny Wong, like Albanese, is from the party’s left faction. She has equivocated in her comments on Israel from the beginning. She recently declared Israel’s planned ground offensive in Rafah to be ‘unjustifiable’ and she has urged its leaders to ‘not go down this path’.

In January, Wong pledged $21.5million in aid to what she referred to as ‘the occupied Palestinian Territories’, including $6million through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Just over a week later, Wong was forced to pause this funding following revelations that UNRWA staff took part in the 7 October pogrom.

Albanese has shown a reluctance to call out the rise in anti-Semitism without tempering his words with moral equivalence. When asked about the chants at the Opera House protest, Albanese said: ‘Anti-Semitism has no place in this country, nor does Islamophobia, nor does any form of racism.’ But there was no ‘Islamophobia’ on display at that demo, or at any other.

This blurring of lines denies the peculiar evil to which Jews have been subjected recently. The Executive Council of Australian Jewry reports an eight-fold increase in anti-Semitic incidents since 7 October. The council recorded 662 incidents in October and November, compared with 79 in the same period in 2022.

Earlier this month, almost four months after the Opera House protests, NSW police reported on their review of video recordings from the night. There had been no arrests. No one had been charged under Victoria’s usually restrictive racial-vilification laws, which criminalise ‘any public act that threatens or incites violence towards a person or group of persons based on their race, religious belief or affiliation’.

The police had, however, bought in an independent voice expert to listen to the chanting. They confirmed that the recorded audio was genuine and had not been doctored. However, it had supposedly been miscaptioned in social-media videos. The expert claimed, ‘with overwhelming certainty’, that the crowd had not been chanting ‘Gas the Jews’, but ‘Where’s the Jews?’.

The suggestion is utterly implausible. Yet even if the voice expert is correct, it is hard to see how a chant of ‘Where’s the Jews?’ is much less threatening than ‘Gas the Jews’. That this mob chanted ‘fuck the Jews’ is not in dispute.

The attempt to excuse those hateful words suggests that Australians are not yet ready to confront the hatred in their midst. Australia’s Jews have been totally abandoned.

Nick Cater is a senior fellow at the Menzies Research Centre in Sydney and publishes Reality Bites on Substack.

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Politics World

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