Anti-Semitic attacks involving face-to-face interactions surged 30 per cent in the year to September, according to the Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s annual report on anti-Semitism.
The report found that although there had been only a slight rise in anti-Semitic incidents overall, from 366 in 2017-18 to 368 in 2018-19, incidents involving direct verbal abuse harassment and intimidation increased from 88 to 114, and graffiti attacks more than doubled from 46 to 95.
The slight overall increase between 2017-18 and 2018-19 builds on a 59 per cent rise in total incidents logged in the previous year.
The high incidence of attacks and threats — ranging from physical assaults to abuse, harassment, vandalism and graffiti, to threats via emails, letters, phone calls, posters, stickers and leaflets — has prompted calls from the Jewish community for increased education about the Holocaust.
High-profile incidents included two Jewish schoolchildren experiencing anti-Semitic bullying at Victorian public schools, former University of Sydney lecturer Tim Anderson superimposing the Nazi swastika symbol over the Israeli flag in lecture slides that were disseminated to students, and the Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation’s production of teaching materials claiming that Israel persecutes Arabs because “they don’t follow the Jewish religion”.
Outgoing University of Sydney women’s officer Gabi Stricker-Phelps said she had regularly experienced anti-Semitism on campus with a number of instances of bigotry directed against students because of their Jewish identify.