Over the last year or so, far-right groups in Australia, mimicking those in the US, UK and Europe became increasingly open and virulent in expressing hatred of Jews as a group, and increasingly brazen in calling for their murder and genocide.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) Report on Antisemitism in Australia documents both antisemitic incidents and antisemitic discourse. The ECAJ report for 2018 recorded a 59% increase in antisemitic incidents over the previous twelve month period, far outstripping the 10% annual increase over each of the two previous twelve-month periods. In the 2018 period, there were 366 incidents, up from 230 in the previous period.
One group, Antipodean Resistance, was responsible for 133 (36%) of the year’s total incidents. This was an increase from 50 incidents by the group in the previous twelve month period and accounted for more than 60% of the increase in incidents overall. Its activities were predominantly in the form of posters, stickers, graffiti, murals and one act of vandalism. They are of concern not only because of the greatly increased frequency with which they occurred but also because they were well organised and highly targeted.
Antipodean Resistance is a neo-Nazi group which originated in Melbourne in October 2016. From small beginnings, it now has members across many parts of Australia. After only two years it accounts for more than one-third of antisemitic incidents in Australia. The group explicitly embraces Nazi ideology, subscribing to the long-discredited pseudo-scientific racial theories of a superior “Aryan race” and a sub-human “Jewish race”. Jews are portrayed as operating with a single collective mind, plotting to control and dominate the world, and are thereby accused of threatening the superiority and dominance of the “Aryan race”. Antipodean Resistance names its solution as “White Revolution” – code for the genocide of Jews and the systematic subordination of “non-white” races.
Much of the propaganda of Antipodean Resistance consists of posters calling to “Legalise the execution of Jews”, warning of “Jewish Poison” and blaming Jews for non-white immigration. Other posters, copied from Nazi German propaganda in the 1930s and 1940s, depict Jews as Ungeziefer (‘Vermin’) and glorify the gassing of Jews and the burning of their bodies in Nazi crematoria. They incite hatred and violence against Jews with the aim of laying the political and psychological groundwork for the physical annihilation of Australian Jews. Antipodean Resistance posters also demonise and incite violence and the murder of homosexuals.
Several far-right individuals in Australia who were formerly fixated with hatred against Islam and Muslims during 2015-2017 have now switched their focus towards Jews. These political activists have not just embraced antisemitism but many have also adopted Nazism and a veneration for Hitler.
With classic inversion, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists accuse “the Jews” of orchestrating the “genocide” of European races, “White Genocide”, through the “importation” of non-Europeans, especially Africans, Asians and Arabs, into Europe, North America and Australasia, in order to destroy European culture and to subjugate and decimate those of European ethnicity.
In the warped minds of those who have succumbed to the myth of “White Genocide”, the murder of Jews of any age or any background, anywhere and anytime is justified. This is the ideology subscribed to by many at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, USA, in August 2017 when they chanted “Jews will not replace us.” This is the ideology subscribed to by Robert Bowers who shot dead eleven Jews in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, USA, in October 2018.
Online there has been a surge in posted comments calling for the extermination of Jews worldwide and of graphic images of Jews being killed – through stabbing, shooting and hanging. Most of this incitement occurs on Gab, a Twitter-like platform, which is a haven for extremists and racists. Some of these online haters belong to groups such as Antipodean Resistance; others are individuals going online to have their hateful and murderous views reinforced. The depravity of these “keyboard warriors” extends to graphic ideational fantasies about how they want Jews to die. They leave no doubt about their murderous aspirations and intentions.
Words, mere words, one may say. Yet history teaches that when people say they want to kill Jews, they usually do – today, tomorrow, next week, or next year. The warning signs are there for those who wish to see them. The far right has called for blood! Lots of blood. Antisemitism may start as a simple hatred of Jews, but it often ends in violence, and eventually mass murder. Ultimately it leads to the devastation of the whole of the society that has been infected by it. What starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews.
As the political far right emerge from its dark crevices and increasingly becomes emboldened and more active, and as far right groups publicly denigrate, demonise and incite violence against Jews, among others, it is incumbent upon political and other leaders to demonstrate that antisemitism, and all other forms of racism, are totally unacceptable in Australia, and to ensure that countervailing policies, laws and other measures are adopted and enforced.
Julie Nathan is the Research Officer for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), and since 2013 is the author of the annual ECAJ Report on Antisemitism in Australia.