The subject of bigotry is fraught with danger and it’s with trepidation that one wanders through the minefield waving their opinion aloft for all to see.
My view is all bigotry is bad and no one form of bigotry is any worse or more justified than another. I also believe that this should be the attitude taken by all levels of government. To treat one form of bigotry as more important than others is is a form of bigotry itself.
However, there are times when certain types of bigotry are justifiably at the forefront of public discussion due to significant events or a tipping point being reached. Such as the recent Black Lives Matter campaign.
In Victoria, the government has announced additions to the school curriculum to tackle bigotry, and federally it was recently announced we’ll have two MP’s joining an International inter-parliamentary taskforce to highlight bigotry.
Unfortunately, both announcements only seek to address one form of bigotry.
Maybe I’ve missed reports, but I was blissfully unaware of high incarceration rates from the Jewish community or the high number of Jewish deaths in custody. I also didn’t catch viral videos of Jewish people being racially vilified and bullied on trams, trams and buses as we so often see directed at Australians of Asian heritage, particularly during covid and the 5G rollout.
Both announcements included claims of increasing rates of antisemitism, but included no details to substantiate their claim.
I found it odd that of all the types of bigotry faced in Australia this was the one focused on.
The changes to the Victorian school curriculum are currently being worked on to include more intensive studies of the Holocaust and antisemitism. The Holocaust is rightly already taught in Victorian Schools however new lessons will now be added to the curriculum.
I contacted the Victorian Education Minister James Merlino’s office for comment however they failed to respond.
According to the Minister’s media release the new curriculum lessons are being “developed in partnership” with Gandel Philanthropy.
Gandel Philanthropy are part of the Gandel Group who fund various Zionist organisations and groups and are large political donors. Since 2010 they have donated over $370,000 to the Labor Party.
In his press release Minister Merlino is quoted as saying;
“Anti-Semitism is on the rise around the globe and sadly we are not immune in our own Victorian community.”
No doubt we’re not completely immune, however when I looked for any evidence of rising antisemitism it was hard to find. I contacted the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission who told me that recorded complaints aren’t broken down that far. The closest category being ‘Religious belief or activity’ which saw a rise of 12 complaints over the last year. I was told the bulk of these complaints come from the Islamic community.
The Victoria Health website was equally devoid of talk of increasing levels of antisemitism, in fact it’s not even mentioned, interestingly though racism against New Zealanders is listed.
Indigenous Australians are the most likely to face bigotry according to the VicHealth website.
Unfortunately, there’s no new curriculum on the massacre of Indigenous Australians. Also missing are extra curriculums on the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields, Rwandan Genocide, the Armenian Genocide, or the Palestinian Nakba and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians that continues to this day.
I could think of 370,000 reasons why the government may be adding these lessons despite it already being taught, however was unsure why it was being lobbied for by Gandel Philanthropy until a spokesman responded to my queries.
In regards to the claims of increasing antisemitism rates Gandel’s spokesperson was unable to provide any evidence aside from a report created by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. It determines anything using a swastika to be antisemitic even if the targeted minority groups are clearly not Jewish as the graffiti in question clearly states ‘Asians’, ‘Ni***rs’ or other minority groups.
Given the lessons also include content on antisemitism I was keen to hear what the curriculum ‘partners’ believed to be the definition of antisemitism considering it was going to be taught to Victoria’s children.
“Gandel Philanthropy does not have a specific definition on Antisemitism, but we encourage all governments around the world to adopt the definition as stipulated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)…”
“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
This definition has been widely criticised as it is often taken as meaning any criticism of the Israeli government as being antisemitic. It is viewed as a way of silencing any and all criticism of any Israeli policy including apartheid. Largely designed to force social media platforms to ban criticism of Israel, it may now be indoctrinated into our children’s minds.
It is interesting when a political donor of such magnitude to both major parties uses phrases like “we encourage all governments around the world to adopt the definition as stipulated by the IHRA…” concurrent to the announcement that we’ll have two Australian MP’s joining an “Inter-Parliamentary Task Force on combatting online antisemitism” . Those two MP’s are Labor’s Josh Burns and the Liberal’s Dave Sharma.
As reported by the interparliamentary group ‘Australia Israel Labor Dialogue’ the new task force;
“…aims to establish consistent policy in legislatures around the world.”
This would clearly involve defining antisemitism given it’s specifically what they’ll be targeting.
To his credit, Josh Burns has spoken out on other types of bigotry previously, including racism, sexism and homophobia.
I contacted Josh Burns to see what was involved with this task force. If this was to be a group of MP’s calling out antisemitism as they saw it online, something Burns didn’t refute, I was concerned the taxpayer could be liable for any resulting defamation claims. Burns responded;
“Australian taxpayers do not cover defamation costs for MPs.”
While that may sound comforting I’m not sure the same rule applies to parliamentary task forces.
On the matter of whether holding up one form of racism as being the most important is in itself a racist attitude, Burns responded that;
“…a taskforce fighting against a particular form of racism should not be misconstrued to be in some way diminishing other forms of racism.”
Any taskforce that determines that criticism of Israel is antisemitic and should be banned is inherently racist against Palestinians. The information provided in the ECAJ report label’s anti-black, anti-Asian, and pro-Palestinian graffiti as antisemitic, this is directly “diminishing other forms of racism”. ECAJ’s report even goes so far to single out Fr Rod Bower of Gosford Anglican Church and Father Bob for using the word holocaust in relation to Nauru and Manus Island detention centres. My understanding is that the word is not subject to a patent.
Again I requested evidence of rising antisemitism and was sent links to the ECAJ report again as well as other reports from Zionist organisations, however most telling, and most alarming, I was also sent a link to a Guardian article. The article was about Australian Security force’s responses to right-wing extremism. It did not mention antisemitism and was based around anti-Islamic groups, Islamophobia and came about in the wake of the Christchurch massacre of 50 Muslims.
Not all right-wing extremism targets Jewish people, the Christchurch tragedy clearly targeted Muslims.
I struggle to think of anything that would be more insulting or offensive to the Islamic community than to try and intentionally misrepresent motives for the massacre as being in any way related to antisemitism. For someone who doesn’t want to be seen as ‘diminishing other forms of racism’ I’d suggest letting the facts of that tragedy stand without trying to hijack it for your own agenda.Follow @madwixxy