Anti-Semitic incidents fall in Australia

SYDNEY (JTA) – The number of anti-Semitic incidents in Australia decreased by 39 per cent in the past year, but there was a rise in acts of a more physical nature, according to the main Jewish umbrella group in the country.

In total, there were 190 recorded incidents in the period covered – Oct. 1, 2014 to Sept. 30, 2015 – the Executive Council of Australian Jewry reported last week. The vast majority arose from abuse, harassment or intimidation, representing a 58 per cent increase. But there was a 90 per cent drop in email incidents and a 77 per cent drop in anti-Semitic material distributed through leaflets and posters.

The council attributed the overall decrease to a spike in incidents in the previous year caused by the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The council’s president, Robert Goot, told JTA: “These results show how appreciative we should be of living in a country like Australia … but we should never become complacent.”

New South Wales was the worst affected state with 115 reports. The state of Victoria experienced 66 incidents.

Most incidents occurred in areas near synagogues.

Among the incidents singled out was the Lynch Affair, in which a professor at Sydney University, Jake Lynch, waved a banknote in the face of an elderly Jewish woman during an anti-Israel protest and verbally abused her.

Another involved Ismail Al-Wahwah, the spokesman for the Islamist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir, who vilified Jews in a public speech and was featured on a YouTube video calling for the slaughter of Jews. The law precluded any action, but the New South Wales government is seeking to reform it next year.

In another highlighted incident, the Red Rattler Theatre refused to hire out its facilities to a Jewish group. Following a public outcry, the theater reversed its decision.

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