Antisemitic conspiracy theory mars debate about the Voice

Conspiracy theories about ‘the Jews’ are ancient, pervasive and often genocidal in what they advocate. They are fabrications borne out of a malignant bigotry that seeks to place all the world’s problems at the feet of one numerically small people, the Jewish people. Jews have been blamed for killing Jesus, murdering children to consume their blood (the Blood Libel), causing the Black Plague, controlling governments, finance and media, perpetrating the 9/11 terrorist attacks, wars and other acts of terrorism, and being behind civil rights for minorities, tsunamis, “White Genocide”, and more recently, the Covid-19 pandemic.

The latest iteration of these absurdities is the canard that ‘the Jews’ are behind the Australian indigenous Voice referendum. The accusation is based on a false belief that ‘the Jews’ seek to destroy European-ethnic Australians, and that giving a ‘Voice’ to Australia’s indigenous population is one way to advance that goal. Regardless of one’s views about the Voice, the accusation not only diverts public focus from consideration of the merits or otherwise of the Voice proposal, but also vilifies and threatens Australian Jews.

Discourse blaming ‘the Jews’ for the Voice has been occurring on extremist social media sites and websites for many months. Jew-haters have been driving it and pushing this conspiracy theory. The theory is that Jews are so powerful and evil that they control the government and force the government to make decisions that are not in the best interests of Australians, but are in the interests of only Jews. While ever such discourse occurs on fringe extremist sites, such as Telegram, it remains somewhat contained. However, under the ownership of Elon Musk, Twitter has become a platform that allows extremists to post hateful and vilifying content; as attested to by the many neo-Nazis and other racists who have flocked back to Twitter.

Anthony Albanese, the Australian Prime Minister, has a Twitter account, ‘AlboMP’. On 30 June 2023, he made three posts, each one including text and a photo to reinforce the breadth of support for a Yes vote in the upcoming constitutional referendum on the Voice for indigenous Australians. The photos depicted the Prime Minister engaging with members of the Jewish community, including with two Jewish communal leaders and a Jewish MP. The posts emphasised that the Voice had the support of many “multicultural and faith groups” including “many Jewish groups.” Many of the comments in response to Albanese’s posts claimed that Jews controlled the government, that the Voice is orchestrated by ‘the Jews’, and raised issues irrelevant to the Voice such as Palestine. The main post had over 125,000 views and hundreds of comments.

A small selection of the crudely anti-Jewish comments in response to Albanese’s posts include the following.

  • “Of course Jews support it, this was their idea in the first place. That Jew you’re shaking hands with (Mark Liebler) was the main architect of the Voice. Jewish Power in Australia is more secure if White Australia is weakened, and you are complicit in it. Treasonous.”
  • “Of course they will, they run the financial world and wouldn’t miss ruining Australia for anything!”
  • “Jews were also over-represented in Australia’s communist movement. Why are they so often involved in promoting causes (such as the Voice) that run counter to Australian interests?”
  • “go research the Jewish law book the TALMUD Than you will understand who’s behind it all.”
  • “Zionist occupied government.”
  • “Thanks for exposing the agenda pushers.”
  • “At least you are transparent about who pulls your strings. Probably a few sheckles in it for you too.”
  • “Why would you speak to representatives of a foreign country regarding a matter affecting the constitution of Australia? Which country do you work for?”

Some comments on other Twitter accounts included: “The Jewish Voice to Parliament”; “#VoteNo to the Jewish voice”; “The goyim know” and the satirically worded “Just a totally organic cohencidence for the betterment of Australia and totally not the latest chapter in the thousands year old hate and attempted destruction of white people.”

There were several images posted on Twitter, including on Albanese’s page. The most popular image, posted many times on various pages, had the heading of “Labor want an Indigenous Voice to Parliament but…” and individual photos of four named people, composed of an Aboriginal man and woman, Anthony Dillon and Bess Price, with the text “Not His Voice” and “Not Her Voice”, and two prominent Jews, Mark Leibler and Julian Leeser MP, and the text “His Voice” for each Jew. This image was also popular on Telegram, an extremist site.

Another image had the text “All the major creators, financiers and supporters of the Voice to Parliament are Jewish. Ask yourself why .38% of Australia’s population is using 3% as a battering ram against the rest of the country. Every single time” and the photos and names of seven prominent Australian Jews plus Thomas Mayo (an indigenous activist with the Voice, who it is claimed has some Jewish ancestry), and all eight people have a blue Star of David on their photo to identify them as Jews. The figures .38% and 3% refer to the Jewish and Aboriginal percentages, respectively, of the Australian population.

A third image added text to the photo, originally posted by Albanese, which read: “Mark Leibler. Jewish Tax Lawyer and architect of Aboriginal Voice to Parliament.” A fourth example is a cartoon sequence of someone in a t-shirt saying “We know who is really behind the Voice to Parliament!”; a suited male with a cigar anxiously asks “Who is?”; the answer given is “Inner city Lefties!”; and the suited character, now identified as Jewish by the Jewish religious head covering, responds with “Phew!” to signify his relief that the supposed “Jewish plot” remained a secret.

On Telegram, Thomas Sewell, leader of the neo-Nazi group National Socialist Network, wrote: “Well the jews (Liebeler and Lesser I believe) that are behind this 2023 political maneuvering to further destroy the interests of White Australians have aptly named this jewish controlled dancing monkey dictate “The Voice”.” Other posts on Telegram included: “Joel Davis and Blair Cottrell did a good deep dive into the Jewish influence behind the ‘Aboriginal’ Voice to Parliament with a focus on Mark Leibler”;  “we go behind The Aboriginal Voice and look at one of its key architects, influential Jewish activist, corporate Tax lawyer and political power broker Mark Leibler”; “This is what the Jews behind the Aboriginal Voice to parliament have in store for Australia”; and “Albo’s handed us an opportunity to red pill people on the Jewish involvement in the Voice.”

While some prominent Australian Jews, along with many other Australians, have been very supportive of the referendum, it is absolutely absurd to claim it is orchestrated or run by ‘the Jews’. The conspiratorial mindset only needs one Jew or a handful to be involved in something for a conspiracy theory of a “Jewish plot” to form and take hold. Such is the incapacity of conspiracy theorists to distinguish between fact and fantasy and engage in rational debate.

The danger lies in the twin threat posed by such conspiracy theories: firstly, vilifying and demonising the Jewish community; and secondly, undermining the contest of ideas that is essential to the working of a liberal democratic society. In this instance, it poses a third threat – taking the focus away from proper discussion of the Voice referendum. Conspiracy theories need to be exposed for the insidious folly they are and countered to neutralise the dangerous threats they pose.

About the Author
Julie Nathan is the Research Director at the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the peak representative body of the Australian Jewish community, and is the author of the annual ECAJ Report on Antisemitism in Australia.
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