Category Archives: Australia

Vice-Chancellor vows to stamp out anti-Semitism – University of Sydney

sydney uni 3VICE-CHANCELLOR of the University of Sydney, Dr Michael Spence, has asserted that anti-Semitic behaviour is not acceptable on campus, and insisted the university wants to take a strong stand against it.

Speaking exclusively to The Australian Jewish News, following a series of incidents in recent years that have left Jewish students feeling uneasy, Spence said university should be a place where “everybody is safe and free to discuss ideas”, and where students have confidence people will “engage in debate about their ideas, but not in behaviour that’s denigrating of them personally”.

“We have repeatedly expressed the fact that anti-Semitic behaviour is not acceptable on campus,” he said.

“One is always going to have people who engage in hateful behaviour of one kind or another. What I want to do is empower the great body of students and staff to know how to deal with and fight against that.”

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The university is investing significantly in the creation of a national centre for cultural competence and increasing the cultural competence of its staff and students. Cultural competence programs for staff have already started, and Spence said the feedback from that is “extremely positive”.

On the topic of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, Spence reiterated that “BDS is not university policy”.

“We think that we should have academic relations with universities wherever good academic work is being done,” he said. “Exceptional academic work is being done in Israel and we have relationships across the board, most recently in nanotechnology and agriculture with universities in Israel, so that’s not an issue.

“We have strong academic relations with Israel, a great tradition of relationships with the Jewish community, a flourishing program in Hebrew and Jewish studies that remains internationally renowned and is very important to us.”

Noting that some staff support the BDS movement, particularly Associate Professor Jake Lynch, and choose not to collaborate with academics from Israeli universities, Spence said, “That is a position that Jake takes in relation to the foreign policy of the State of Israel.

“Academic freedom means that there’s nothing I can do to stop him taking that position, nor would I think it appropriate for me to do that, because the university is not somewhere that promotes ideas or has positions. We are a forum for debate, we are not a participant in debate.”

He said the university cannot censure staff or students for holding an opinion or expressing an opinion.

“What we can do is censure them for behaviour that moves beyond the holding or expressing of an opinion, and moves into racial vilification or hate speech.”

He added: “I’m not defending the work of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. I’m not endorsing the academic positions of Jake Lynch. I need to make sure that Jake Lynch does not engage in behaviour that involves racial vilification, hate speech, anti-Semitism.

“But I also can’t censure an academic for holding a view or advocating a view, because that’s what academics do.”

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Urging students to come forward if they “have evidence of behaviour they regard as anti-Semitic”, he added, “We take the concerns of students that they are being treated unfairly by either staff or other students incredibly seriously.

“We want to stamp out this behaviour, which we think is endemic in Western culture. We want to take a strong stand against it.”

Follow this link to the original article here.

Australian Rabbi tells vandal, “You were damn lucky that I wasn’t there to catch you.”

A Rabbi has furiously reacted after vandals in Australia painted swastikas on Maroubra Synagogue in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

Rabbi Yossi Friedman, described the graffiti as an “assault on the Jewish People.”

Apart from desecrating his synagogue, Rabbi Friedman said that a nearby bus stop was also covered with Nazi-style graffiti.

“I can NOT be silent. What would drive a person to such deplorable action? Why such hatred?” said the Rabbi in a statement on Monday.

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Rabbi Yossi Friedman and family

 

 

He explained how synagogues are symbols of peace and a place reflection, prayer, meditation and could not understand why people would deface them.

Rabbi Friedman had some words of advice for the vandals: “I have one message to impart to that vandal who desecrated my Synagogue and insulted my people: I pity you. Your hatred won’t harm us, it will only consume YOU. So for your own sake, let it go. Oh, and one more message. You were damn lucky that I wasn’t there to catch you.”

Australian high school principal apologises to Jewish students over anti-Semitic chants

Reported in the Australian Daily Telegraph: The principal of an elite Sydney high school has apologised to the students of a Jewish school after some student spectators yelled anti-Semitic chants during a friendly touch football game.

Year eight players from Moriah College were subjected to chants of “Jew FC” and “****ing Jews” by fans of Reddam House during the game last week.

2016-03-10-09-15-17--371288810In a statement from the school, Reddam principal Dave Pitcairn said with seven Jewish students in their own team “it defies belief” that any of his students took part in the chants against Moriah.

“The students are all aware that this behaviour will not be tolerated and that, should racial vilification rear its head again, the students involved would be asked to leave our school immediately,” Mr Pitcairn said.

“I am convinced that this is an isolated incident of stupidity rather than any religious or racial vilification and have never come across this before in my sixteen years as principal of Reddam House.”

Moriah College principal John Hamey said he asked the boys from the other team to stop their chants on the day.images-2

Latest round the world update from AntiSemitismWatch

Britain

Chuka Umunna has identified problems with anti-Semitism “on the fringes of the left”, and singled out Ken Livingstone as the “obvious example” of someone who has “very much offended” Jewish people.

Chuka Umunna
Chuka Umunna

Speaking to The House magazine, the Labour MP said: “I think there is a problem with anti-Semitism on the fringes of the left, there is no doubt about that; it would be completely disingenuous to deny that. And there are some people who have clearly said some things which have very much offended the Jewish community. Ken Livingstone’s the obvious example.”

In 2005, Livingstone, the left-wing former London mayor, faced heavy criticism after he likened a Jewish newspaper reporter to a Nazi concentration camp guard.

Livingstone later said the incident was “a huge fuss over nothing”, and attacked the Jewish community for being “obsessive” about his relationship with an extremist preacher.

Read more here.

Philadelphia, USA

A community meeting in a gentrifying neighborhood of Philadelphia was forced to end abruptly after local activists hurled anti-Semitic comments at Jewish real estate developers.

At the Feb. 22 meeting in Point Breeze, in South Philadelphia, activists with Concerned Citizens of Point Breeze yelled “Go back to Israel!” and other insults at developers who were making presentations, Philly.com reported.pointbreeze

“This was not one person with a screw loose. This was a mob mentality,” Ori Feibush, a local developer who is Jewish but was not presenting at the meeting, told Philly.com.

One witness, who asked not to be identified, told Philly.com he heard someone shout “Go back to Lakewood,” a town in New Jersey with a large concentration of Orthodox Jews.

City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson said that while past meetings concerning gentrification have “become heated,” it “never rose to this level of disrespect.”

Johnson, who was not at the meeting but heard about it from an aide who was attending, added that “those comments — whether anti-Semitic or racial — are totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

Read more here.

Australia

A GLEN Eira councillor has been censured by fellow councillors for making disparaging remarks in the council chamber about the Jewish community.

Cllr Oscar Lobo
Cllr Oscar Lobo

In a tense council meeting on Tuesday night, Oscar Lobo’s eight fellow councillors unanimously voted to censure him for comments that, in the words of the motion, were “racist and anti-Semitic”.

During a debate on community security at Glen Eira Council’s December 15 meeting, Lobo, who has served as Glen Eira’s deputy mayor, caused outrage by remarking that maybe the Jewish community “wouldn’t have to worry about being attacked if they didn’t draw attention to themselves”.

A statement from B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission chair Dr Dvir Abramovich was read to the council, in which he said blaming Jews for anti-Semitism “is one of the oldest and most pernicious anti-Semitic myths”.

Councillors also voted unanimously to adopt a second motion censuring Lobo for remarks he made “that he has been the subject of racism” in the council chamber and urging Lobo “to undertake counselling” which the council was prepared to facilitate.

Read more here.

 

Online AntiSemitism report + ASW.com under attack

In the digital age, it is through online media, particularly social media, that hate speech is frequently propagated. Indeed, examining whether social media is rife with Anti-Semitic speech directly promoting violence against Jews was an imperative aspect of a detailed study, “Online Antisemitism: Meeting the Challenge”, undertaken by Australia’s Online Hate Prevention Institute (OHPI).

The report will be released at the 5th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism on May 12, 2015. It will be made freely available on its website ohpi.org.au after May 13, 2015.

The report analyses over 2000 unique items of online antisemitism, which were crowd-sourced using OHPI’s public online hate reporting tool FightAgainstHate.com. The items were categorised as content promoting violence against Jews, Holocaust denial, traditional antisemitism and new antisemitism (ie, Israel-related antisemitism).

The analysis found that 115 items out of the 2024 items reported, that is nearly 5 per cent, fell into the category of directly “promoting violence against Jews”. This included violence being promoted against “Israelis” or “Zionists”, as both terms are used to refer entirely or predominantly to Jews in this context of violence.

The data analysis also suggested that this category of “promoting violence against Jews” was most prevalent on Twitter. This is not surprising given that Twitter operates on anonymity and catchy and emotional hashtags.

Such an environment encourages people to become increasingly irresponsible in their expressions in the hope of being noticed. One of the vilest hashtags to go viral on Twitter during the height of the Israel-Palestine conflict last year was #HitlerWasRight. In justifying the attempted genocide of the Jewish people, it was one of the most vocal, public and direct attacks on Jews on Twitter.

In recent months, Twitter has acknowledged that the abuse and harassment on its platform needs to be addressed and is taking steps to remove such content and identifying and reporting repeated offenders.

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In a similar vein, AntiSemitismWatch.com can announce that it has been under sustained hacking attack in recent weeks, with almost 160 malicious attempts in just a matter of days.

Read more of the original article here.

ASW Major Investigation – State of the ‘Student’ Union

coollogo_com-23172872AntiSemitismWatch.com, concerned by what it has been picking up through its perhaps unique global coverage, has conducted a major investigation into the level of Antisemitism being faced by Jewish students on University and College campuses. As ASW has always made clear, we firmly believe that only by understanding the global context of Antisemitism, not merely focusing on our own ‘back yard’, can this evil be understood, faced up to and defeated.

ASW does not hide away from telling the truth.  Recent campus Antisemitism has not only been of the overt kind (best described as linked to ethnic hatred). It has also been generated directly in some instances by the anti-Zionist, anti-Israel, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

ASW20On 1st March 2015, ASW posted about a Jewish student, Rachel Beyda, being quizzed by members of UCLA’s (University of California, Los Angeles) student government about whether her Jewish identity presented a ‘conflict of interest’ in her application to join. They questioned her ability to make unbiased decisions on cases in which the Jewish community had a vested interest while being active in Jewish organisations on campus.

The debate, captured on video, roiled the campus and sparked a national discussion about discrimination against Jews.

Meanwhile, just a few days ago members of the Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee in the US became the latest target of campus Antisemitism after discovering swastika’s spray-painted in the elevator of their fraternity house. Another swastika was painted on a basement door.

Similarly, in New York City last week, John Jay College of Criminal Justice was the scene of swastikas and Antisemitic slurs, accompanied by racist and homophobic graffiti.

Perhaps not surprising then the findings from the National Demographic Survey of American Jewish College Students, issued by Trinity College and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. The survey indicated more than half – 54 percent – of 1,157 college students surveyed at 55 U.S. campuses had either experienced or witnessed Antisemitic incidents.

In the UK both the University of Westminster and the University of Kent initially invited and then swiftly banned the extremist Islamic preacher Haitham al-Haddad  from speaking on campus. Al-Haddad has been accused of promoting Antisemitic views such as Jews being, “the descendants of apes and pigs.”

Interestingly, however, the bans only occurred after it emerged Mohammad Emwazi, or “Jihadi John”, was radicalised at the Westminster university.

In January this year The Independent described how an openly racist neo-Nazi group – National Action – was seeking to recruit on UK university campuses. While in the same month swastikas were daubed on walls of the University of Birmingham.

Yet it is perhaps through links with the BDS movement that some of the most vehement Antisemitism has been witnessed. A link so often dismissed its supporters.

On the 15th February 2015, ASW posted that the Students Representative Council (SRC) and Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) at Durban University of Technology in South Africa had stirred outrage after they had demanded that Jewish students, especially those who “do not support the Palestinian struggle,” leave the school.

On 24th February 2015, ASW further posted about a list of the top ten most Antisemitic US campuses produced by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a conservative think-tank based in California.

The think-tank report described how Jewish students at the University of California at Davis awoke earlier this year to swastikas spray-painted on their fraternity house. This event occurred less than 48 hours after the school student government passed an anti-Israel resolution to boycott targeted companies who do business with the Jewish state.

SONY DSCIn Brussels earlier this month, Jewish students at the Brussels Free University were targeted by anti-Israel activists from the BDS who shouted Antisemitic slogans. As the Jewish students were observing the set up of a symbolic so-called ‘’Wall of Occupation’’ in the middle of the campus, the BDS students started shouting “Zionists, fascists, you’re terrorists” at them.

In 2011, a pro-Palestinian campaigner was convicted of a racially motivated attack on a St Andrews student after he put his hands down his trousers before wiping them on an Israeli flag hanging in his room.

ASW22Anti-Israel incidents at Scottish universities have previously contributed to Jewish students quitting their courses in despair. Attacks were said to have created a “toxic atmosphere” in which Jewish students no longer felt comfortable. Among those who felt the need to leave was a former Edinburgh Jewish Society chair who dropped out of his course to study abroad. 

Just a little under two weeks ago a Sydney University academic, Jake Lynch, was reportedly faced with an investigation over an incident born out of his support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel. A fracas had broken out when students stormed a public meeting on campus and disrupted an address by former British army colonel Richard Kemp. Mr Kemp wrote to the vice-chancellor claiming that he observed Professor Lynch, “waving money in the face of a Jewish student, a clearly aggressive and insulting act that seemed to invoke the stereotype of the ‘greedy Jew’,” Mr Kemp wrote.

ASW comment: The links between the BDS movement and Antisemitism is a reality that cannot be ignored. Too often Jewish community institutions have shied away from speaking on this issue. To do so only emboldens those that seek to use BDS for such purposes and prevents Jewish students from being adequately supported in confronting the consequences of it.

ASW also believes that armed with this evidence it is incumbent on the University authorities to take intrusive action to prevent all forms of Antisemitism including that disguised under the BDS banner.

 AntiSemitismWatch.com urges all British Jewish student groups to undertake and circulate its current survey into Antisemitism in the UK.

Highly rated article – Antisemitism and the Left

ASW highly commends the following article from Dean Sherr in The Guardian. It examines the intriguing question of why the Left chooses to downplay the significance of Antisemitism?

There is a famous saying in Jewish culture that neatly summarises the history of the Jewish people and the rituals associated with our tradition: “They tried to kill us, we survived, now let’s eat.”

Easily misunderstood and misinterpreted, one of the defining characteristics of Jewish culture and identity is the awareness of historical (and modern) antisemitism. The festival of Purim, held a fortnight ago, tells the story of Haman’s attempted genocide of the Persian Jewish community. Somewhat more well-known in popular culture are the festivals of Passover and Hanukkah, which celebrate the liberation of Jews from the Egyptian and Greek empires.

Since the 1950s, we have commemorated Yom Hashoa, the Jewish day of remembrance for the Holocaust. Unlike the more historical festivals of liberation and survival, there is no great overriding sense of joy; nor is there a celebratory meal attached to it.

In light of this history, it is little surprise that many Jews had a significant relationship with the left for many years. An oppressed and marginalised people for so long, Jews have a natural political affinity with values like freedom of expression, equality, multiculturalism and, certainly, anti-racism. The concept of Jewish self-determination, Zionism, saw itself as a fundamentally left-wing movement in its inception.

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, antisemitism was impossible to ignore and became a central concern of the global left, but Julian Burnside encapsulated the contemporary shift in thinking when he wrote in the Guardian that “Islamophobia is the new antisemitism”, implying, as many often do, that the old antisemitism has been superseded.

It hasn’t. Last Wednesday, a lecture at the University of Sydney by retired British Colonel Richard Kemp became the scene of a heated protest. Kemp was accused of supporting genocide, and, during the fracas, noted Australian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions advocate Professor Jake Lynch was filmed waving money in the faces of an elderly Jewish women and the Jewish student trying to prevent the two from coming to blows.

Lynch explained his actions as a response to having been kicked, saying it was a warning that he would sue, and described his restraint as “almost heroic”, though his account has been disputed by witnesses, with Kemp claiming that the woman was attempting to push Lynch away, who initiated the contact.

Irrespective of who struck first, the image of a leftwing academic brandishing money in the faces of Jewish people clearly evokes the crude antisemitic falsehood that Jews are obsessed with money and perhaps neatly encapsulates the shift of the left away from Jews.

Whatever Lynch’s excuses or reasoning, and the elderly woman’s behaviour, it was clearly an offensive and provocative gesture, reasonably likely to offend the Jewish community. In the past, a leftwing professor would surely have anticipated this, but the reality is that antisemitism today is not as pressing an issue to progressives as it once was.

Instead we have a new set of attitudes towards antisemitism: that it is of lesser importance in the west than other forms of racism, like Islamophobia; that it is no longer a serious threat to diaspora Jews; and that the gravity of its existence is diminished because of the existence and behaviour of Israel.

The attacks in Paris and Copenhagen are ample proof that antisemitism still poses a threat to Jews in the west, especially in light of new recordings from Paris confirming definitively that the gunman targeted Jews. In France, Jews make up 1% of the population yet suffer half of all racist attacks. In Australia, 2014 saw a massive increase in reported antisemitism, including physical attacks in Sydney,Melbourne and Perth.

The continue reading this article click here.

ASW supports call for action over Hzib Ut-Tahrir

ASW adds it support for action after HIZB Ut-Tahrir was last night compared to ISIS by outraged Jewish community leaders in Australia in the wake of an Antisemitic diatribe by the Islamic group’s Sydney leader ­Ismail al-Wahwah.

Video of a sermon in which Mr al-Wahwah described Jews as “the most evil creature of Allah” surfaced yesterday — drawing condemnation from Australian state and federal authorities. ASW challenges these authorities to do more than merely condemn. Action is what is required!

Responding to the video featuring an animated Mr al-Wahwah repeating suggestions that Jews “slayed the prophets” and “corrupted the world with their corrupt media”, New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies chief Vic Alhadeff compared the rhetoric to the propaganda of the Islamic State.

ASW supports Alhadeff’s call for the government to respond swiftly amid fears of cultivating another homegrown terrorist. “It is another wake-up call for authorities to act.”

 

 

Australia: Antisemitism makes school terrorism protection necessary

Queensland, Australia: A spokesman for a Queensland school for Jewish students that has received extra federal funding for terrorism protection says growing Antisemitism in Australia makes the funding necessary.

Jason Steinberg, president of Queensland’s Jewish Board of deputies, confirmed a small primary school college for Jewish students in Brisbane’s south-eastern suburbs was one of two Queensland schools which would receive money for terrorism security.

“We would prefer we lived in a world where Jewish schools, Muslim schools and independent schools were not the target of terrorism and funding wasn’t needed, but we unfortunately do find ourselves in these times.”

Mr Steinberg said while there were no current threats to the Queensland school, “there have been other attacks closer to home, with Jewish kids on buses being verbally abused and hijacked in Sydney.

Read the full report here.