Julian Leeser is a Jewish MP who is is standing for re-election in the Federal seat of Berowra in NSW. in the upcoming Federal election. The following is posted with his permission from his Facebook page after a series of antisemitic graffiti attacks.
I am proud to be a sixth generation Australian – the grandson of a survivor of Changi and the Burma Railway and the great-grandson of an Anzac who served in the 1st Light Horse.
And I’m proud to be a Jew.
There have been Jews here in Australia since a dozen Jewish convicts came ashore on the first fleet. Moved by a sense of patriotism Jews have always sought to serve this country.
In the first federal Parliament there were three Jews – one of those three, Sir Isaac Isaacs, became the first Australian born Governor General.
Australian troops were led in World War One by General Sir John Monash.
Jews have contributed to every facet of Australian life far beyond their numbers.
I am one of six Jews who served in the 45th Parliament.
Australia has been one of the few countries on earth where Jews have practised their religion unhampered and never suffered any form of discrimination. Jews have sought refuge here from centuries of hatred and discrimination including pogroms and the Holocaust.
So I find it hard to believe that in 2019 we are witnessing antisemitic incidents on an unprecedented scale. Long discredited antisemitic ideas are now being given credence by the far Right and the far Left. And with social media unchallenged antisemitic ideas spread quickly.
For the third time my campaign materials have been attacked by people trying to intimidate me by sending a message of hate.
First it was swastikas and Hitler moustaches on my posters on a street in Normanhurst.
Then my posters have been torn down and repeatedly been defaced by Electrical Trade Union stickers.
Now the photo on my campaign office – private property not public property – has been painted over with dollar signs. Last week Josh Frydenberg‘s posters were daubed with dollar signs and other antisemitic messages too.
This is not because he is the treasurer, it is because, like me, he is Jewish and like me he has been targeted by the merchants of hate. The $$ refer to old antisemitic lies of an international Jewish banking conspiracy; that Jews have control of the world’s money supply. These sentiments were used by Nazis and others who have sought to spread hatred of Jews for centuries.
I have been involved in political campaigns in Berowra for 15 years but I have never seen anything like this before.
These are not isolated incidents. A few weeks ago a restaurant in Epping (just out of the electorate) was plastered with antisemitic slogans including “watch out Jews” and “ kill Jews” and last November the peak body representing the Jewish community reported a 60% increase in antisemitic incidents in Australia.
Nor am I the only Jewish candidate in this election to be targeted in this way. But as Jonathan Sacks has written “The hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews.” In this election candidates have been attacked because they are Jewish, Asian, Muslim, Christian or Gay.
By all means debate and disagree with candidates because of their policies. That is the stuff of a free democracy . But people should not be attacked because of something they cannot change.
People have asked me what should I do in response to these attacks? I will do what I have always done: redouble my efforts to serve the community. And if you think I’m doing a good job then please support me on 18 May and send the antisemites the clearest possible message.
I might leave the final word in this long post to the Jewish communal leader Alex Ryvchin who wrote the following after the last incident:
“Julian epitomises the best of Jewish civil participation, excellence and service to our nation, and he has celebrated the rich cultural diversity of his constituents. These are all qualities that the fringe neo-Nazi elements in our midst cannot accept. While this is a deeply personal and distressing attack on Julian I am certain it will only make Julian more determined to continue to serve our country with distinction, vision and leadership.”
This I have always sought to do.