Daily Israel Report

Anti-Semitic Hate Wave Rolls Across Britain and Australia

The month of July was one of the worst, in terms of anti-Semitism, in both England and Australia. In Canada, as well, Jewish leaders are concerned.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 9/6/2006, 10:48 AM / Last Update: 9/6/2006, 1:05 PM

TheAge.com in Australia reports that anti-Semitism is on the rise across university campuses in the country. Grahame Leonard, the president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, says July had the most anti-Semitic incidents - no fewer than 141 - since records began in 1945. Never before had there been more than some 90. The July attacks included phone calls, hate e-mails and graffiti, as well as violent incidents - with the big jump being on campuses in Victoria.

Recent incidents include:
* An enraged Monash University lecturer gushed expletives upon an Australasian Union of Jewish Students representative for his pro-Israel stance.
* A Young Liberal member in Monash staffing an Israel stall was grabbed by the throat and threatened, and the table was kicked over.
* Jewish students were pushed to the ground and spat upon in Sydney.
* Israel's Ambassador to Australia recently visited Melbourne University, but Socialist Alternative members disrupted the meeting and were asked to leave by, of all people, the Lebanese Students' society.
* Also at Melbourne University, security staff intervened to keep apart left-wing students and another group of students waving Israeli flags.

"There's a real feeling of threat," Deon Kamien, Victorian president of the Union of Jewish Students, was quoted as saying. "It's not something I can put in words. A lot of students who would feel very comfortable wearing a kippah or T-shirt with Hebrew words on it now feel they are being targeted as Jews - not supporters of Israel, but Jews."

In Britain, as well, The Times of London reports that attacks on Jews have soared, and that even the national government has taken notice. On Thursday, an all-party parliamentary inquiry will state that anti-Semitic violence has become endemic in Britain, both on the streets and university campuses. The report will call for urgent action from the Government, the police and educational establishments.

The Times attributes the hate wave to the war in Lebanon. "Synagogues have been daubed with graffiti," the paper writes, "Jewish leaders have had hate-mail, and ordinary people have been subjected to insults and vandalism."

Mark Gardner, of the Community Security Trust, said, "In July, when the conflict in Lebanon began, we received reports of 92 incidents, which was the third-worst month since records began in 1984." In 2000, the monthly average was between 10 and 30 incidents. He said the incidents in July were "more dispersed than usual" and "were very widespread across the country."

There have been several attacks in various Jewish neighborhoods in London of late. In one incident last month, a Jewish restaurant in Golders Green was targeted by two young men who threw chairs, punched workers and threatened to kill the owner, Ruth Cohen, with a knife. In Hampstead Garden Suburb, swastikas and the words "Allah" and "Kill all Jews" were daubed on the house and car of a local Jewish doctor.

More recently, a 12-year-old Jewish girl was stomped upon and brutally kicked on a public bus in London. Accosted and asked if she was Jewish, she replied, "I'm English." Unimpressed, four girls, accompanied by three boys, then pushed her to the floor, stomped on her face and repeatedly kicked her.

In Canada, as well, fear of increased anti-Semitism are on the rise. The Toldos Yakov Yosef-Skver Orthodox Boys School in Montreal was targeted with a Molotov cocktail this past Sabbath morning, causing 150,000 Canadian dollars' worth of damage. Local Jewish leaders said they are concerned that further violence will be directed at the community, in light of the recent war in Lebanon.

Rabbi Reuben Poupko, a member of the city's Jewish community security council, told The Hamilton Spectator,
"It's a fair question to wonder whether or not the [recent] gathering of 15,000 Quebecers under the flag of Hizbullah -unfortunately further legitimized by the presence of politicians - whether that creates an atmosphere where fanatics draw the conclusion that violence against Jews is somehow acceptable."

On September 1, a Hassidic man was removed from an Air Canada Jazz flight from Montreal to New York when he began to pray. CBC Montreal reported that the plane was heading toward the runway for takeoff when he began to pray. Swaying back and forth, he attracted the attention of at least one flight attendant, who told him that his praying was making other passengers nervous. A witness later said, "The attendant actually recognized out loud that he wasn't a Muslim and that she was sorry for the situation, but they had to ask him to leave." Air Canada Jazz later said it received more than one complaint about the man's behavior, and that "the crew had to act in the interest of the majority of passengers."

Jewish leaders in Montreal criticized the move as insensitive, saying the flight attendants should have explained to the other passengers that the man was simply praying and doing no harm. B'nai Brith Canada offered to help give Air Canada crews sensitivity training, CBC reported.