The realisation struck me last weekend that our fair society in Australia is at risk. The freedom and stability we cherish cannot be preserved in the wake of what is now an outright cultural assault. Starting with the Jewish population, and ending up who knows where, the fear and intimidation of those who preach hatred will gradually evolve into an unassailable threat on the way we live in this country.
Proponents of multiculturalism believe that immigration is the problem. I submit that it is integration, not population movement that needs to be the focus of the debate. My grandparents were born in this country, and it’s pretty hard to tell me to go back to where I came from if I am a naturalised Australian. Similarly, third and fourth generation Muslim Australian’s are as Australian as you and me and any other Australian Citizen. It is not about who comes to this country and how, but about what they do when they get here to uphold the values of their home society.
As an Australian I am proud to have an allegiance to the nation. I wave my flag with pride (I don’t burn or trample on it). I abide by the rule of law (I don’t preach hatred or incite Jihad). I contribute to Australia’s development, economic growth and prosperity (I don’t expect to be a burden to the taxpayer). I also exercise my privilege to enjoy the right of the freedom of speech that this nation cherishes with care and responsibility.
Last weekend I watched the Channel 9 TV news coverage of two rallies in Sydney. One was a rally for Israel, the other for Gaza. The broadcast mentioned that two rallies were held calling for peace, and that people on both sides of the conflict were calling for an end to violence. There was complete and utter total moral equivalence of both events. It was mentioned there was a heavy police presence at both events. Then one interesting visual distinction from the pictures was pointed out to me. At the Israel solidarity rally the police were facing outwards to protect people at the rally from external threats. At the Palestinian protest march the police were facing inwards to protect the general public from threats coming from the marchers themselves.
It didn’t take much of an internet search to show how culturally opposite these two near-simultaneous events were. The Israel rally contained speeches, prayer, song and did indeed aspire for peace. At the Palestinian protest the same dignity was not extended. There were people with ISIS signs, wearing Hizbollah TShirts and calling for Jihad. When they say “Free Palestine from the river to the sea” what are they actually saying? From the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea – in other words, Israel’s entire country. They are calling for the destruction of a nation, not for a share of its territory. Not for co-existence and peace, but for genocide of the Jews.
Placard at the March reads “Behead all those who insult the Prophet”
I am an identifiable Jew, wearing my skullcap in the street. I see people wearing religious garb such as the turban, hijab or even the burka. Australian’s should not feel confronted by this. But sadly they do. The prejudice and ignorance in the Australian street is as disturbing as it is frightening.
There is a real fear and nervousness within the Jewish community resulting from the unfounded hatred directed against it. It is apparent that it is no longer safe for a person who is identifiably Jewish to go to their local shopping centre. I was in the street on Sunday and randomly got called a “fucking Jewish child murderer” by a passing motorist. A visiting Rabbi to the Perth Jewish community was verbally assaulted and spat on.
It’s also not “safe” to go on line.
Just a few weeks ago I regarded facebook as a slightly amusing and overly-convenient way to stay in touch with friends. Suddenly it has become a battlefield. Filled with images of brutal anti-Semitism of the worst kind imaginable. Several groups have been invaded by trolls posting images of dead babies (mostly from Syria) and accusing Israel of genocide, calling for the killing of Jews wherever they are, and with hateful distortions of the truth. There are also posts of Islamic militants decapitating and shooting their captors, dragging people along the streets on the back of motorcycles, throwing people off buildings, and other barbarism that is sickening to the stomach. A list that I subscribe to was “invaded” by Gaza supporters posting insults, threats, and images depicting Israeli’s as Nazis. My identity on facebook is no longer safe, and my experience no longer friendly.
Anti-Semitism, I am sad to say, is once again prevalent in both the physical and virtual worlds. Rabbi James Kennard notes as follows:
Some would say that this is a result of the spread of radical Islam into the population of Western nations and the failure to stand up to fascism for fear of the Islamophobic label. But my conclusion is based on a much longer view of history and is hence even more pessimistic. With great sadness, I have concluded that we are learning that anti-Semitism was not mortally wounded by our “modern” enlightenment as we may have thought in the last few decades. It was merely sleeping, subdued by the post-Holocaust awareness of its terrible potency. But with the passage of seven decades and two generations, the anaesthetic has worn off. The swastikas, the chants, and the sympathy when a terrorist organization stockpiles rockets and creates a vast labyrinth of tunnels solely for the purpose of killing Jews, are not aberrations, but part of an inexplicable yet existential reality in the fabric of civilization. Our good and true friends exist, but they are few and becoming fewer. We must look around, open our eyes, and see that, as usual, we are the people who dwells alone.
To its credit the Australian Government has recognised the threat of security to our country, inclusive of the surge in anti-Semitic activity. Today’s decision to not proceed with loosening the laws of racial vilification, and providing additional security powers to deal with Australians engaged with terrorists is both a necessary and commendable step. The threat is very real.
However the most important change needed is by our media, who continue to report Hamas propaganda which is biased, manipulated, and often fictional information. Not only do we need balance, we need truth and context. Israel would not need to be anywhere near Gaza if Hamas were not threatening the lives of Israel on a daily basis. The news services need to apply greater due diligence to the content they deliver, and undertake investigative journalism that does not make their news broadcasts a mouthpiece for the terrorists.
I write these words on Tisha B’Av, which is a day of mourning in the Jewish calendar for the historic tragedies which have befallen the Jewish people. We have much to lament and cry about both in ancient and contemporary history. However the practice of mourning within Judaism, both individual and collective, ultimately channels all grief into constructive energy. Introspection, betterment, rebuilding and hope are the products of our grief. We start now to move towards the Jewish New Year with these objectives in mind.
I wish only peace to Israel, to Gaza and the Palestinians, and to Australia. We in Australia need to take an urgent and serious look at what is happening in our society, and eradicate the hatred before it becomes too late.