Australia is a tolerant country full of much diversity and many cultures. But as far as we are from the rest of the world, we are not immune to the scourge of anti-Semitism that is sweeping through it.
A recent political cartoon in the Sydney Morning Herald depicted a stereotypical Jewish man sitting on a hill, watching the destruction of Gaza with a remote control, while having a cup of coffee. A google search of carlton anti-semitic cartoon will find it quite easily. There was naturally an outcry from the Jewish community so much so the cartoonist no longer works at the newspaper – not for the cartoon itself, but for his reaction to readers who complained to him. He used aggressive and derogatory language against them and although he wasn’t fired, he resigned of his own accord.
Then, just the other day on a popular current affairs show called 60 minutes, a story that can only be described as one sided in the extreme depicted the conflict in Israel from the Palestinians view point. There were plenty of images and videos of suffering children and civilians without once mentioned Hamas’s human shield policy. They did, however, choose two representatives from the Israeli side – an extreme leftist and extreme rightist – a nice balancing act indeed ignoring the vast majority.
Then, and probably most disturbing of all, was a vile and disturbing anti-Semitic attack on a school bus in Bondi, Sydney – the same area in which a physical assault on Jews took place back in October last year, and which I wrote about at the time. In today’s attack, a group of eight drunken school boys boarded a Jewish school bus carrying students from three different Jewish schools and verbally assaulted them. They were screaming ‘Heil Hitler’ and ‘Kill the Jews’. They also threatened to cut their throats and kill them. The target of these verbal attacks were not rallies for Israel in the middle of the city, but schoolkids on a school bus coming home from school. Kids as young as 12, 10 and 8 – maybe even younger. Kids that are now emotionally traumatized. After they got off the bus, the kids were crying and calling their parents.
Whenever an event such as this occurs, we tell ourselves in tranquil Australia that we didn’t expect this to happen here! We expect it in Belgium, or France, but surely not here. Yet, the surprise of these events happening in Australia are becoming less and less. The sad reality is that anti-Semitism has never disappeared. Perhaps for a few years it was left in a deep sleep, dormant, unsure of itself, uncertain of its path, but like all monsters, it is not easy to kill. The thin veneer between being anti-Israel and anti-Semitic has truly vanished. It is patient and has tentacles that can reach far into every corner of the world, even tranquil Australia.
Australia remains a tolerant country with many good people who are kind and supportive and not racist in anyway, but that dark under current of anti-Semitism that exists in every country in the world is just a little bit closer to the surface today.