Jewish Leader Warns of ‘Epidemic’ of Antisemitism in Australian City of Melbourne Following COVID-19 Lockdown Controversies
An Australian newspaper has posted recordings of violently antisemitic telephone messages left on the voicemail of a Melbourne synagogue in the midst of what one Jewish leader has described as an “epidemic” of antisemitism in the city.
The latest wave of antisemitism was significantly bolstered last month after local media reported on an engagement party in the city that was attended by about 70 Orthodox Jews, in violation of Melbourne’s strict COVID-19 social distancing protocols. In another incident that contravened social distancing rules last week, Melbourne police confronted Hasidic Jews at a synagogue where they had gathered to mark the first day of the Jewish New Year, resulting in a stand-off that began at 4:30 am, when the first worshipers arrived, and ending at 8.20 pm the same night.
“Neo-Nazi groups and other far-right groups have seized on publicity surrounding the illegal gatherings to vilify the broader community, often invoking Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust in their attacks,” Melbourne newspaper The Age reported on Tuesday.
Messages left on the voicemail of a synagogue in the Caulfield district of the city as well as at the offices of a major Jewish organization drew on Nazi demonization of Jews as subhuman, with callers referring to Jewish people as “germs.”
“All you Jewish are pieces of shit. How f—ing dare you guys have a party, an engagement, when the rest of Victoria are locked down? You f—ing imbeciles. Yous are a germ. Yous are a f—ing germ. I hope you all f—ing die,” one man ranted.
In a different message, the caller said, “G’day Rachel, my name’s Michael, I’d like to know why you scumbags, Jews, think it’s ok for you guys to have a party while the rest of us are in lockdown.” Another caller ended his message by remarking, “It’s bad enough that I can’t stand Jews, but now this, it makes it even worse for you f—ing imbeciles.”
Dvir Abramovich — the chairman of Australia’s Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) which combats antisemitism in the country — told The Age that there was “an epidemic of antisemitism in Melbourne and it’s a problem we can’t ignore.”
Observed Abramovich: “Times of turmoil have always offered fertile ground for racism, and I am very alarmed by the scale and depth of the wave of hatred.”
Abramovich also expressed concern at the emergence in Australia of a vaccine refusal group first seen in the UK that has appropriated the name of a resistance group within Germany that fought Nazi rule during World War II.
The so-called “White Rose” anti-vaccination group recently posted stickers in two Jewish districts of Melbourne featuring a swastika alongside the warning, “No Jab, No Job,” Abramovich said.
Condemning the appropriation of Holocaust imagery by anti-vaccine extremists, Abramovich said that the stickers had deliberately been placed in “the heart of the Jewish community” to cause fear.