Sydney — Anti-Semitic incidents in Australia rose 21 percent in the last year and are the second highest on record, according to an annual report.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s annual “Report on Anti-Semitism in Australia” – tabled at Sunday’s annual general meeting in Melbourne – revealed 657 reports of racist violence against Jewish Australians and Jewish community buildings between Oct. 1, 2012 and Sept. 30, 2013.
Serious physical attacks were at the lowest since 2005, however.
“In general, it can be said that Australians neither particularly like nor dislike Jews,” wrote the authors, Julie Nathan, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s research officer, and Jeremy Jones, director of international and community affairs at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.
“Although stereotypes of Jews remain part of the culture in Australia, these are not as deeply ingrained or hateful as in European and Middle Eastern cultures,” according to the authors. “Anti-Semitism remains at the fringes of Australian politics and society, and though there are exceptions, anti-Semitism is not generally part of the mainstream discourse.”
The 202-page report does not include the recent brutal assault of five religious Jews walking home from Shabbat dinner in Bondi last month, described as the worst anti-Semitic incident of its kind since records began in 1989. Four men and a woman were bashed in a brutal fistfight that left Eli Behar, 66, with bleeding on the brain. He was released after two nights in hospital.
The report does, however, include the fallout sparked by explosive revelations that Israel’s “Prisoner X” was Ben Zygier, a Melbourne-born Mossad agent who committed suicide in his maximum-security prison cell in 2010.
“A tragedy involving a single individual was used in some media to impugn the loyalty to Australia of Australian Jews as a group,” the authors wrote. “[It] … was used as a pretext by anti-Semites to accuse Jews in Australia of disloyalty.”
At the annual general meeting, Sydney barrister Robert Goot, a vice president of the World Jewish Congress, was elected president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, replacing Dr. Danny Lamm, who served since 2010.