Jewish leader warns of ‘outbreak’ of anti-Semitism in Australian city of Melbourne following COVID-19 lockdown controversies
An Australian newspaper published recordings of violently anti-Semitic phone messages left on the voicemail mailbox of a Melbourne synagogue amid what a Jewish leader described as an “epidemic” of anti-Semitism in the city.
The latest wave of anti-Semitism was significantly reinforced last month after local media reported an engagement party in the city attended by around 70 Orthodox Jews, in violation of Melbourne’s strict COVID-19 social distancing protocols. In another incident that broke 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 stalemate which started at 4:30 a.m. when the first worshipers arrived and ended at 8:20 p.m. the same night.
“Neo-Nazi and other far-right groups have used the publicity surrounding the illegal gatherings to vilify the wider community, often citing Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust in their attacks,” Melbourne newspaper Age reported Tuesday.
Messages left on the voicemail of a synagogue in the city’s Caulfield neighborhood as well as at the offices of a large Jewish organization were inspired by the Nazi demonization of Jews as subhumans, with callers calling them Jews of “germs”.
“All of you Jews are crap. How dare you have a party, an engagement, while the rest of Victoria is locked up? You are fools. You are a germ. You are an af-ing seed. I hope you all are going to die, ”one man said.
In a different message, the caller said, “Hello Rachel, my name is Michael, I would like to know why you Jews think you can party while the rest of us are locked up. Another caller ended his message by remarking: ‘It’s bad enough that I can’t stand the Jews, but now it makes the situation even worse for you fools.’
Dvir Abramovich – the chairman of the Australian Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) which fights anti-Semitism in the country – said Age that there was “an epidemic of anti-Semitism in Melbourne and this is a problem we cannot ignore”.
Abramovich observed: “Times of turmoil have always provided fertile ground for racism, and I am very alarmed by the breadth and depth of the wave of hatred.
Abramovich also expressed concern over the emergence in Australia of a vaccine denial group first seen in the UK that appropriated the name of a resistance group in Germany that fought the regime. Nazi in WWII.
The anti-vaccination group “White Rose” recently posted stickers in two Jewish neighborhoods in Melbourne with a swastika next to the warning “No Jab, No Job,” Abramovich said.
Condemning the appropriation of images of the Holocaust by anti-vaccine extremists, Abramovich said the stickers were deliberately placed in “the heart of the Jewish community” to sow fear.