By Mark Schliebs
July 29, 2019
Anti-Semitism is rearing its head in schools and universities across Australia, with one Jewish leader taking the issue up with a deputy vice-chancellor of a major university and another calling for the swastika to be banned.
Children in primary school are among those who have recently been targeted, and an outbreak of anti-Semitic graffiti has led the chair of the Melbourne-based Anti-Defamation Commission, Dvir Abramovich, to call for the current “swastika epidemic” to be tackled by law.
In Sydney, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff said legislative action was “vital”.
“The alarming spike in anti-Semitic incidents is evident across the board, from the tertiary sector and schoolyard to the workplace and online space,” he said. “Just this week we received a call from a student looking to switch universities because she has copped relentless anti-Semitic abuse. Two weeks ago, I met with the pro vice-chancellor of one of our major universities to discuss the rise in incidents on that campus.”
That meeting was in relation to incidents at the University of Sydney, he said.
He said TAFE NSW recently introduced protocols for staff and students in regard to racism, anti-Semitism and intimidation “and we’ve seen a rash of Nazi swastikas on Bondi beachfront — the symbol of the ultimate in race hatred”.
Dr Abramovich said the swastika should be banned across Australia, following a spate of graffiti attacks in Melbourne.
Similar incidents have occurred in Canberra, where rabbi Shmueli Feldman said his Chabad ACT centre had been egged and vandalised and he and his familyverbally abused. “Children as young as 11 are being taunted in the playground by other children with slurs like ‘We love Hitler’, ‘Heil Hitler’ and things of that nature,” he said.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry recorded a 59 per cent increase in anti-Semitic incidents last year, and anecdotal evidence suggests there may be a rise in graffiti attacks this year.
In Melbourne, cafe owner Aliza Shuvaly, whose mother-in-law is a Holocaust survivor, found someone had scrawled the words “The Holocaust is a lie”, along with a swastika, on the fence outside her cafe in Chadstone.