by Barney Zwartz | TheAge.com.au | November 28, 2011
JEWS in Australia faced 517 incidents of harassment or intimidation in the year to September 30, a 31 per cent rise from the year before, according to the Jewish community's annual report on anti-Semitism.
"Put bluntly, in Australia this year, 10 times a week, every week, Jewish Australians were attacked or threatened," report author Jeremy Jones said yesterday.
It is the 22nd year that Mr Jones, community affairs director for the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, has produced the report, which showed a 38 per cent increase over the average of the previous 21 years but an 80 per cent drop on the record tally (2009).
Between October 1, 2010, and September 30 this year, there were 17 physical assaults or property damage, 128 incidents of direct harassment and intimidation, five threatening phone calls, 301 emails, 48 incidents of anti-Jewish graffiti, and 18 other incidents.
Mr Jones said the total did not include anti-Israel incidents or those where motivation was in doubt. While anti-Jewish violence had little public support, anti-Semitic comments "find comfortable hosts on the online sites of mainstream media outlets, including government-owned", he said.
He said Australians needed to treat hate crimes seriously. The property damage or injury might be slight, but the impact on the victim and the community might be significant.
The media should not allow comments online that they would not print or broadcast. "It is time mainstream media and others grew up. The online world can no longer be regarded as some sort of alternative reality," Mr Jones said.
"Just as most church groups have managed to psychologically distance themselves from pseudo-Christian racists, mainstream Muslims, leftists, rightists and others need to identify racists as just that — bigots undeserving of a place."