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November 11, 2014 6:04 pm

Hostile Media Coverage of Israel Fueled Anti-Semitic Outbursts in Australia, Jewish Group Reports

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avatar by Ben Cohen

Anti-Zionist or Anti-Semitic? Grafitti sprayed on a Jewish building in Australia. Photo: EJAC

Five teenage drunkards storming a school bus of Jewish children while screaming “Palestine” and “Heil Hitler;” a vicious mob attack on a group of Jews, two of them in their 60s, leaving a shabbat dinner; a family pelted with dirt while exiting a synagogue – these are just a few of the 312 incidents of anti-Semitism recorded in Australia between October 2013 and September this year.

The “2014 Report on Antisemitism in Australia,” the latest in a series of annual reports going back twenty years produced by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ,) noted a worrying 35 percent rise in anti-Semitic attacks compared with the previous year. The anti-Israel tone of much of the media coverage of the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza over the summer was the primary cause, ECAJ said.

As well as detailing the specifics of each anti-Semitic episode, the report examines manifestations of anti-Semitism in Australian politics, including the far-right and the Palestinian solidarity movement.

Mainstream media depictions of Jews are a central focus. ECAJ warned of an “escalating use of antisemitic motifs” in the mainstream media, singling out claims by the former foreign minister, Bob Carr, that Australian politics was subject to a “very unhealthy influence” by a Jewish lobby, and a Sydney Morning Herald cartoon in July that revived some of the ugliest anti-Semitic stereotypes.

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The cartoon, by Glen Le Lievre, showed a hook-nosed, bespectacled man wearing a yarmulke on a couch emblazoned with the Star of David using a remote control to blow up buildings in Gaza.

“The publication of the clearly anti-Semitic Le Lievre cartoon was completely unacceptable,” ECAJ said in a letter to the Herald. “The cartoon unambiguously portrays an ugly stereotype of a Jew.

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