Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Attacks on Jews signal ,,,by Julie Nathan... ECAJ RESEARCH OFFICER

Attacks on Jews signal a worrying threat to all civilised society

In the aftermath of the Holocaust it was hoped that expressions of murderous Jew-hatred would be considered so odious as to be a thing of the past.
The Holocaust, the deliberate and planned killing of every Jewish man, woman and child the Nazis and their collaborators could get their hands on, was a seminal event for humanity.
It demonstrated that although human beings have the potential to rise to all kinds of lofty heights, there is also no limit to the moral depths to which they may sink.
In far too many European minds, Jews were not seen as thinking, feeling fellow human beings but as objectified examples of an ­impersonal “type”. The concept of “the Jew” became the repository into which Jew-haters projected their personal insecuri­ties, cravenness, misanthropic ­impulses and self-loathing.
Fast forward to the next ­century and another continent. ­Despite the best hopes, and years of education about the evils of ­racism, incitement to murder Jews has been resurrected, even in Australia, which has no history at all of official persecution of Jews.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the peak representative body for Australian Jews, publishes an annual report on anti-Semitism in Australia, which documents anti-Semitic incidents.
The latest report, just ­released, ­reveals that in the year to September there were 230 anti-Semitic ­incidents reported, a 9.5 per cent increase.
The most prominent change has been the rise in extreme right-wing activity.
This new development has been predominantly through the formation of a neo-nazi group Antipodean Resistance in October last year. It originated in Melbourne but has spread to most states.
The activities of Antipodean Resistance are primarily of propaganda and recruitment. To this end, members of the group have been heavily involved in putting up thousands of Nazi swastika stickers and thousands of anti-Jewish, anti-homosexual and pro-Nazi posters, especially at universities, public places and in areas with numbers of Jewish residents.
These posters are not just run-of-the-mill agitprop. Two Antipodean Resistance posters demand “Legalise the execution of Jews” and call for the killing of homosexuals.
The posters have graphic images of shooting Jews and homosexuals in the head.
Other Antipodean Resistance posters vilify and demonise Jews, homosexuals, Chinese students and non-white immigrants.
Where has this resurrection of Nazi murder rhetoric come from?
During the past few years there has been a steady rise in far-right political activity in Europe and North America.
From proscribed neo-nazi terrorist group National Action in Britain (which Antipodean Resistance looks to for inspiration), to the mass rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia in August (in which a protester was killed by a far-right activist), and rallies in Poland of up to 60,000 ultranationalists (with many calling “Jews out!”) this month, neo-nazi and other extreme right groups are becoming increasingly active and emboldened.
Many blame US President Donald Trump, whose rhetoric and behaviour have indeed at times condoned and encouraged racist, sexist and bigoted sentiment.
Yet on the other side of the political spectrum British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also has shamefully tolerated and been accused of condoning anti-Semitism among the far left and Islamist groups he has courted.
However, the deterioration in the standards of discourse in ­conventional politics is a mere symptom of a deeper malaise ­simmering within Western ­society, brought about by growing technological disruption, economic inequality, job insecurity and xenophobia, and a contracting middle class.
The tra­ditional ­social consensus about our democratic institutions and values is being undermined in the process. Intolerance, bigotry, ­hatred and violence increasingly rise through the cracks in the bedrock of society.
The Jewish community bears the brunt of this fracturing of ­society.
Because of the high incidence of physical attacks against Jews and Jewish communal buildings during the past three decades, and continuing threats in Australia, Jewish places of worship, schools, communal organisations and community centres need, for ­security reasons, to ­operate under the protection of armed guards, high fences, metal detectors, CCTV cameras and the like.
The Jewish community is the only community within Australia that has to live with such high ­levels of security.
The necessity is recognised by Australia’s law ­enforce­ment agencies and arises from the entrenched and protean nature of anti-Semitism in Western and Muslim culture.
As history has so often shown, when people can target Jews with impunity, in the street, in institutions or anywhere else, then sooner or later other sectors of society also will be targeted. Jews are said to be the “canary in the coalmine”.
The devastation wrought by racism and racially motivated violence may start with the Jews but it never ends with the Jews.
Julie Nathan is research officer for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and author of the ECAJ anti-Semitism report.

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