Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg has cautioned against a rising tide of anti-Semitism amid a legal challenge to the eligibility of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

By Tom Stayner
September 13, 2019

Jewish groups have warned of a “rising tide” of anti-Semitism in Australia, with one Liberal senator even citing the challenge to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s eligibility to sit in Parliament as an example of renewed attacks on Jews.

Senator Andrew Bragg cautioned about a dramatic increase in anti-Semitic attacks over the past year, calling racism a “sickness of the heart and mind” that should never be tolerated.

Speaking under parliamentary privilege on Wednesday evening, he called a Section 44 legal challenge against the deputy Liberal leader’s citizenship status “disgraceful”.

“I believe anti-Semitism is a rising problem … across Australia. Anti-Semitic incidents have increased by 60 per cent in the past year,” he said in Parliament.

“There has been an extraordinarily large increase in email threats, telephone-based threats and vandalism.”

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff told SBS News there has been an “alarming” increase in anti-Semitism, even in the past several months. 

“This is not what Australia is about – it comes from extremist elements on the left and the right and it flies in the face of what is the most successful multicultural society in the world,” he said.

He said these incidents have been seen in schools, universities, the workplace and daily life.

“It is not what Australia stands for and it, therefore, should be condemned by leaders in society and is something that all well-meaning Australians are against.”

Last year, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) found an almost 60 per cent increase in anti-Semitic incidents over a 12-month period.

During the year there were 366 anti-Semitic cases recorded, which included 156 incidents of physical assault, abuse harassment, vandalism and graffiti; and 210 threats made via the phone, letters or email.

Research director at the ECAJ Julie Nathan told SBS News concerns around anti-Semitism need to be taken seriously.

“History has shown that when Jews have been increasingly attacked either in incidents or in propaganda and discourse than that often indicates that there is something going on within the society,” she said.

“Jews are often the first be to be targeted – so when that is occurring then it means people need to look at what is going on.”