Antisemitic incidents in Australia increased by 31% from 2018 to 2019, according to a report published by the Community Security Group (CSG). The organization, which is under the auspices of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), works closely with Australian government and law enforcement to ensure oversight of the Jewish community’s security.
The highest number of antisemitic incidents reported fell under the category ”abusive behavior” (362 cases) followed by damage and desecration (31), threats (27), distribution of antisemitic literature (17), assaults (12), and acts of extreme violence (2). Incidents involving damage and desecration increased by 48%. Right-wing extremists were responsible for 40% of the total number of incidents. Notably, 49% of the incidents occurred during Jewish holidays or on the Sabbath. Two of the more severe cases in the report were a credible threat to conduct a shooting at the Sydney’s Central Synagogue, and the assault of a 12-year-old.
CSG New South Wales head of security Matthew Meyerson said, “As the threat environment continues to evolve, CSG’s role in the provision of security protection to the Australian Jewish community remains essential.” He added, “We would like to remind you of the importance of reporting. If you experience or see an antisemitic incident, or see something suspicious or that seems out of place or concerning, report it to us. Don’t assume that someone else has reported it.”
The report found that the worst state for antisemitic abuse in the country was in New South Wales, where 63% of a total of 451 incidents took place. Following New South Wales were Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, and Australian Capital Territory. While several other territories reported zero incidents, the group warned that it was “highly likely that there is significant under-reporting of antisemitic incidents to CSG and law enforcement in Australia.”
Antisemitism has also been prevalent in schools across Australia. In July, a 15-year-old Jewish student transferred schools after several incidents involving antisemitic bullying, including a fellow student drawing a picture of the infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele and talking about “dissecting Jews.” The student reported a wider pattern of antisemitic behavior at the school, noting that swastikas and Nazi salutes were common on the premises. Also that month, the Victoria Department of Education launched a full investigation into antisemitic bullying at Brighton Secondary College after two Jewish brothers were physically harassed, verbally abused, and cyberbullied.
In February, the ECAJ published a study that found that the 368 reported antisemitic incidents over the most recent 12-month period represented a 56% increase over the average number of incidents in the previous seven years.