I published an article, Antisemitic Discourse in Australia 2016, on my ‘Times of Israel’ blogsite, on 1 December 2016. A version of the article was also published on 29 December 2016 on the “Religion and Ethics” website maintained by the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC).
The article made reference to the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN).
APAN, as well as two of its office holders, being Bishop George Browning and Professor Bassam Dally, have asserted that they were defamed by the article.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (my employer) and I have denied the allegation that the article defamed APAN, Bishop Browning and/or Professor Dally, but have nonetheless come to an agreement with APAN. One of the terms of that agreement is that I requested that The Times of Israel publish a Clarification in the form below (the Clarification).
The Clarification agreed upon is:
On 29 December 2016 the ABC published an article entitled “Antisemitism in Australia in 2016: Why Does the Malignancy Persist?” (Article) which was written by Julie Nathan, a researcher and writer employed by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ).
The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN), Bishop George Browning and Professor Bassam Dally have expressed their concern to ECAJ that the article alleged that they were antisemitic.
The article does not state that APAN and/or any Christian clergy, academics or others associated with it are antisemitic. The ECAJ believes that no such allegation can reasonably be implied from the article, nor was any such allegation intended to be implied.
If any reader understood the article as having made such an allegation, that understanding is incorrect.
The text of the Article published on 1 December 2016 appears below.
Julie Nathan / 1 December 2016
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), the elected representative national body of the Australian Jewish community, released their annual Report on Antisemitism in Australia, for 2016. The ECAJ Report records antisemitism in two broad categories: incidents and discourse. A link to the full report is at the end.
The 12-month period ending 30 September 2016 saw continued antisemitic discourse in Australia, some of which was documented in the annual Report on Antisemitism in Australia published by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ).
The Report divides discourse into several categories, according to the source: mainstream media and society, organisations and online, Christian, Muslim, and the anti-Israel movement. A summary of some of the issues, and a small sample of typical online comments expressing antisemitic views, within each category follows.
Mainstream Media and Society:
The ABC, Australia’s national public broadcaster, continued to allow itself at times to be a conduit of antisemitic expressions and images, particularly on its Facebook pages. The ABC has become something of an icon for antisemites, as those who are hostile to Jews have found a place where they are free to promote their antipathy towards Jews on ABC social media platforms, including antisemitic fabrications and Holocaust denial, and have been able to do so consistently and frequently over the years without being banned or facing other adverse consequences for their racism. An ABC documentary from February 2014 continues to enjoy viewing across numerous Youtube sites and continues to elicit virulent antisemitic posted comments.
On the Facebook page of ABC News, in response to two stories about the Holocaust there were comments accusing Jews of: committing their own “genocide” against the Palestinians; being “Christ-killers”; controlling the banks; “milking” the Holocaust for money; and being greedy and of caring only about themselves. There were jokes and comments about ovens, and of telling Jews to get over it. Images of Jews as parasites and shysters were posted. Many images mocking the Holocaust, gas chambers, showers and concentration camps were also posted. The Holocaust was denied or minimised.
Organisations and Online:
Throughout Australia, there are many organisations and groups who promote antisemitic beliefs and ideologies. These tend to be on the far right of the political spectrum. During the period in review, most but not all of these groups were more of a nuisance than an organised threat to Jews, either individually or as a community. Other far right groups posed more of a threat. The rise of anti-Islamist groups, has in some instances, galvanised disparate voices into a coalition of racists, including white supremacists and antisemites, and into activity. For example, the leader of the prominent anti-Islamist ‘United Patriots Front’ is Blair Cottrell, who is not only an antisemite but also a neo-Nazi.
Examples of online rhetoric by some of these individuals and groups include:
• “the Holocaust is a hoax”
• “The Jews do nothing but destroy”
• “Adolf Hitler – we need another one!”
• “Our nation is now completely under the control of the International Invisible government of World Jewry.”
• “Throughout his history, the Jew has been a destroyer of civilizations, a plunderer of nations, and a killer who invented the very idea of genocide.”
• “It’s all humans duty to kill Jews on sight , quickly before they wriggle into a hole”
• “how sick, and disgusting the JEWISH RACE is”
• “Gas the kikes race war now!”
• “we did hummanity 6 million favors”
• “God kicked you rotten parasitic Jews out of the middle east when you killed his son Jesus Christ”
There have been incidents of mainstream Protestant Christian preachers expressing and promoting the idea that the Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus. When these matters have come to attention of the ECAJ and/or the state Jewish body, sometimes from Christians themselves, the Jewish body has communicated its objections, and those in authority at those places have investigated and assured the Jewish community that such expressions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Also of concern are the many high-profile Protestant Christians, including clergy, who are actively and vocally involved in the promotion of the BDS campaign and the demonizing and delegitimizing of Israel as the nation State of the Jewish people.
Comments posted on the Facebook page of one Christian cleric include:
• “the murdering Zionists”
• “the Zionist controlled media”
• “these filthy Goldman Sachs Zionist criminals”
• “the Jews are there to loot whatever they can carry”
• “they have too much money in this world. If need be they can buy off anyone.”
Although the Australian Muslim community is ethnically, religiously and politically, very diverse, some segments exhibit high levels of hostility towards Jews, from a religious perspective, and not just from a political perspective based on the Arab-Israel conflict. While many Muslim media sites and organisations act responsibly, others do not. Of concern, are visiting Islamic speakers from overseas. One such speaker was Pakistani Sunni cleric, Muhammad Raza Saqib Mustafai, who has called for the extermination of all Jews from the earth. To the credit of his Islamic hosts, as soon as the media provided evidence of his statements, his hosts cancelled the rest of Mustafai’s talks and he was asked to return to Pakistan.
Examples of comments on Muslim Facebook pages include:
• “You lot learned nothing from WW2. Not surprising really… God sent you Jesus & you killed him, then he sent Mohammad but still you shunned the true message of God.”
• “Hitler said the reason why he never killed all Jews is to show the world how dangerous they are”
• “Israel justifies that Hitler was correct to annihilate them”
• “What an insult to think God Almighty would ‘choose’ child murdering zionists as His chosen ones over the billions of pious law abiding human beings He has created throughout time.”
• “jewish parasites should bre expelled”
One of the most insidious and virulent sources of antisemitism is within parts of the anti-Israel movement. Criticism of Israel is not per se antisemitic, but much of the criticism of Israel and the denial of Jews to a nation state in Israel, found on these sites crosses the line into antisemitism. Although the movement remains somewhat on the margins in Australia, overseas it has threatened the security of, and vilified, diaspora Jews. Of the dozens of anti-Israel groups and internet sites within Australia, several are cesspits of consistent and frequent Nazi-style anti-Jewish propaganda, vilification and demonisation. Even the anti-Israel lobby group, Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, composed of Christian clergy, academics and others, has not been immune from the virus of antisemitism.
Examples of comments on the Facebook pages of anti-Israel groups include:
• “Satans chosen people”
• “Synagogue of Satan”
• “milking and dehumanizing the Goyim”
• “You Zionist Jew’s have a short memory……Remember Auschwitz and Dachau? Remember the Holocaust / Genocide…….Scum of the Earth……”
• “This is why hitler killed them”
• “They should have put all Israelis in the ovens !!!!!”
• “Think we need another Hitler”
• “Zionists and their putrid supporters are a cancer on the world”
• “Disgusting! And they call themselves “THE CHOSEN
PEOPLE”..Hahahahahahah…!!! The vomit of the world.”
• “Zionism murdered our Lord Jesus Christ”
Although Australia remains a stable, vibrant and tolerant democracy, where Jews face no official discrimination, and are free to observe their faith and traditions, antisemitism persists. There are segments of Australian society which are not only hostile towards Jews, but actively and publicly express that hatred with words and threatened or actual violent acts. As a result, and by necessity, physical security remains a prime concern for the Jewish community.
All people, regardless of race or religion, should be able to live without harassment and hatred, without vilification and violence. Antisemitism is pervasive and pernicious. Violence does not occur in a vacuum. It is words, when given free reign, which create a poisonous atmosphere for those targeted by racism. It is words that incite hatred and violence.
The ECAJ Report on Antisemitism in Australia 2016 is available online at ECAJ Antisemitism Report 2016
Julie Nathan is the Research Officer for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the author of the Report on Antisemitism.