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Don't sit and watch antisemitism rising



'Be careful about going outside today,' I messaged my sister. The news rolled in on my Twitter feed faster than I could process. Most shocking was footage of people with SS regalia, videos of so called 'anti-immigration' protestors giving the Nazi salute.

Blair Cottrell addresses the far-right protest on St Kilda Beach.One video gave me pause. It was of a man holding his arm up in a Nazi salute and marching in a partition of protestors. Immediately I was transported back to my childhood, sitting in class during Holocaust Remembrance Days, watching black and white documentaries or listening to Holocaust survivors who spoke at school assemblies. Now, in colour, images of neo-Nazis marching not in Germany but here, in my home, and what can we do? What can I do, other than feel afraid?

Days before the fascist protest in St Kilda beach, a Jewish elderly care facility, housing Holocaust survivors, was defaced with swastikas. Recently, the Report on Antisemitism in Australia reported an increase in antisemitic incidents across Australia in 2018, compared to 2017. We should be alarmed at this report, considering 2017 saw an increase in antisemitism incidents too. The 2018 report also 'identified an increase in overtly neo-Nazi activity by groups like Antipodean Resistance, who describe themselves as "the Hitlers you've been waiting for"', the ABC provides.

In the wake of the fascist St Kilda rally, I noticed people argue that we should starve fascists from attention, as if protestors were unruly children acting up, and not legitimately dangerous individuals who thrive on hate and advocate violence. In his insightful analysis of the rally, Jason Wilson writes: 'As recent experience in the United States and elsewhere has shown, these ideas are delusions. Attention is precisely what leads these groups to come apart. Nadine von Cohen also wrote a polemic response to those who claim we should not call the neo Nazi fascists by their name, saying: 'If we admit they're Nazis, we might actually have to do something about it.'

I'm not here to debate whether we should call fascists by their name (we absolutely should). I'm writing because, when I previously cautioned about Australia's antisemitism problem, I never imagined Australia's contemporary political climate would see neo-Nazis so emboldened.

We cannot dismiss the rise in racial violence as a fringe problem; not when an Australian Senator stood alongside the openly racist, sexist convicted criminal organisers while attendees made Nazi salutes. Not when the Australian Prime Minister condemns 'ugly racial protests', as if those standing against fascists are somehow equivalent to them (reminiscent of Trump blaming 'both sides' after a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, which saw an anti-fascist protestor, Heather Heyer, killed by a neo-Nazi).

To be clear, the primary targets of Erickson, Cottrell, and their group, the United Patriot Front (associated with nationalist and neo-Nazi ideology) are Africans and Muslims. The danger is legitimate — even ASIO have the United Patriot Front under watch. Fascists don't pick and choose the groups they target. While presently their targets are Muslims, Africans, and refugees, Jews also on their radar.


"I wonder what motivated Morrison to go into politics in the first instance, if he so easily forgets the public he serves."


Blaire Cottrell once said 'I consider the Jews of today to be a much deadlier enemy than the violent Islamic pillagers.' The so called 'alt-right' hatred cycles from Jews to Muslims, immigrants to refugees. There's a dangerous process of othering, which serves to objectify a people in order to justify violence. Society breeds racism to give justifications to privilege; this is not a uniquely Australian phenomenon.

And yet, watching the St Kilda protests, seeing neo-Nazis give the Nazi salute in a suburb that has one of the highest rates of Jewish residents, the place where my Holocaust survivor grandfather met and married my grandmother, my throat swells. This is my home. Anning is a Senator in my Senate, Morrison is my Prime Minister. Such politicians have shirked responsibility for public service in order to amplify voices of violence and hate.

In his 1919 lecture 'Politics as a Vocation', which is concerned with social action and identifying the motivation of individuals who go into politics, Sociologist Max Weber developed the concept of the 'ideal type politician'. Weber is curious: What motivates someone to become a politician? He asks: 'What can politics as a vocation offer in the way of inner satisfaction, and which personal qualities does it presuppose in anyone who devotes himself to it?'

Vocation, as I remind my students, carries a double meaning. It refers to a job, a career, but its etymological root is vocare — 'to call'. A vocation is a calling in the religious sense. Something you live for, that you cannot live without. For Weber, two types of people are driven to go into politics: career politicians who enter politics for the love of power, and people who are motivated by true desire for change. In other words, one type goes into politics to live off politics, to live off power for power's sake, while the other type lives for politics. Such people possess a sense of responsibility, realistic passion, and the capacity for measured and thoughtful judgment.

When I think of Morrison's anaemic response to the fascist protest, I'm reminded of Weber's politicians. I wonder what motivated Morrison to go into politics in the first instance, if he so easily forgets the public he serves.

Weber's discussion carries relevance for us today, as we see fascism normalised and rising the world over. It isn't a coincidence that the politician who lives off politics facilitates fascist tendencies (even if they do so by remaining silent): holding on to power for power's sake has dire consequences as politicians align themselves with the most vocal and lucrative voters.

Outside of Israel, Australia is home to the largest number of Holocaust survivors per capita. Of Jews in Australia, a majority live in Melbourne. It is extremely likely that Melbourne is home to a large portion of Holocaust survivors. While I sit petrified, third generation to Holocaust survivors, I can't stop thinking about my grandfather, who survived, who lived, and came to Australia.

In the wake of the St Kilda riots, I sat and re-read my grandfather's memoirs. He survived the Holocaust, saved by the kindertransport. His mother, his father, did not. I sit and read their testimonies. I read the final letter he receives from his mother, the last words she wrote to her children: 'G.d will help us and we shall meet again in joy ... I close with my heartiest regards and kisses. I embrace you in my thoughts.'

This year, in the country that provided my Holocaust surviving grandfather a new life, I think of neo-Nazis taking over the streets, and I read my grandfather's words: 'we sat and watched', and I despair.



Na'ama CarlinNa'ama Carlin holds a PhD in Sociology. A dual Israeli-Australian citizen, she writes about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ethics, identity, and violence. Follow her @derridalicious

Topic tags: Na'ama Carlin, St Kilda riots, fascism



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Existing comments

This is a wonderful article.. Something that everyone should read... The words of Na'amas Grandfather "We sat and watched" what a dreadful thing to do to so many people.. That surely is what we are also doing today"sitting and watching" what is happening in Palestine. The whole world is sitting and watching the same all over again. We should be ashamed.

Gayle | 06 February 2019  

Discrimination based on hatred. One of Humanity's great mysteries. Why is it so? Is it reaction, pro-action, simple ignorance or fear of the unknown?

john frawley | 06 February 2019  

Carlin is beating up a non-issue. These types come and go and they always remain fringe.

roy chen yee | 06 February 2019  

Anti-Semitism around the world reached record highs in 2018 according to Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, and “70% of anti-Jewish attacks were anti-Israel in nature.” British Labour was singled out for its anti-Semitism under extreme-Leftist, Jeremy Corbyn. Labour whip, Frank Field, resigned the party because of anti-Semitism, and Jewish MP Luciana Berger was heckled and abused and needed a bodyguard when she spoke at a meeting. 85% of Jews spoke of rising anti-Semitism in the EU and 38% were considering leaving. In the US, the leaders of the Women’s Movement were called to stand down for anti-Semitism for associating with Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader, and a notorious anti-Semite. Life-long Democrat Alan Dershowitz accused Democrats on the extreme left of “tolerating anti-Semitism” to avoid being alienated by their base—which says a lot about the base. Arthur Koestler, author of “Darkness at Noon”, said that Communism and Fascism were ideological mirror-images, two quarrelling heads on one great monster. And while both pose threats, Dershowitz argues that today, the hard Left is the much greater threat to Jews. By singling out only the “alt-right”, this article is grossly misleading to what is a serious problem.

Ross Howard | 06 February 2019  

''Hitler is not in hell. But in heaven''. Sounds like wishful thinking to me: ''If he is in heaven, why would I not get in?'' or ''By the standard you judge you will be judged'' or ''When we judge others we judge ourselves'', ( I like this one the best). Wouldn't have used the 'H' name had I not heard about 'H' being in heaven (??) and not in hell only just recently. Sure. God's Love is All Merciful. Just as is 'His Judgment'. But not ours. Making ''when we judge others we judge ourselves,'' not rock solid, afterall. Are catholics who have this 'opinion', about 'H' and where his at, doing anyone a favore? Best to say about heaven and hell and who's where, "Only God knows''. I think. As I have heard a Jesuit priest say... And pray: Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Always.

AO | 06 February 2019  

I thank Dr Na'ama Carlin for a considered, nuanced article and I beg to differ with Roy. The fascism and 'strong man' populism we are seeing in Australia and in countries across the globe is a live and real issue. While this kind of fascist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, nationalistic, anti-feminist, misogynistic, homophobic stupidity may well be on the fringes of Australian society at present, it behooves us to keep it there. Put a spotlight on prejudice; identify it, define it, expose it. That's how you address it. The alternative is to not engage, then wake up one morning and find yobbos marching down your streets with swastikas.

Barry Gittins | 07 February 2019  

Thank you for this article. Here is no doubt a resurgence of anti Semitism among the ultra right and it is dangerous. The unruly ultra right aren't the only ones contributing to this phenomenon. The ultra right wing Israeli government is playing its part by deliberately conflating anti Zionism with anti Semitism. The uniqueness of our current times is that many people throughout the world have realised that Israel is trying to destroy Garza and its people. Many Jews oppose this vehemently, among them Holicaust survivors. There is an urgent need for more international condemnation of Israel. At the same time it is paramount that it be made very, very clear that anti Zionism is not anti Semitism. Confusing the two will contribute to, in my view, will have dangerous consequences. We do not want a world divided into either you have to be pro Palestinians and anti Semitists or pro Semisists and anti Palestinians. That would be a disaster.

Anna | 07 February 2019  

Until I read this article I was unaware that Blair Cottrell was anti-Semitic, as the media had concentrated on his anti-Muslim and anti-immigration stance. As he and his fellows seem to get most of their intellectual ballast from the American alt-right, I am unsurprised. There are weird and completely erroneous conspiracy theories there about 'the Jews' being involved in a conspiracy to bring down the Western World by destroying its social fabric. This is a rehash of the fraudulent Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It is horrific, dangerous nonsense. Anti-Semitism has a long history in the English speaking world, as evidenced by Moseley and his Fascists in 1930s Britain and Eric Butler and the League of Rights here. In a society which undervalues both History and Religion, many young people have no idea of the horrors Hitler wreaked nor of the heroic resistance to the Nazis by Germans like Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Another two facts which would surprise many was that Jesus was not a Christian but a practicing Jew all his life and that Hitler and the Nazis were vehemently anti-Christian. The police and ASIO are well onto Messrs Cottrell and Co and they will definitely be charged if they commit crimes. We do need to protect the safety and well being of our Jewish fellow citizens and we also need to ensure that the younger generation are educated about the horrors of the Nazi regime and the Holocaust.

Edward Fido | 07 February 2019  

Na`ama, I appreciate that you come from an extremely sensitised and traumatised personal place, and I would add that the Jewish immigration to Australia is highly valued by the vast majority of our community, and certainly by me. But your piece is rather imbalanced and especially unfair to the PM whose words were directed at the small number anti-African anti-immigration louts trying to get publicity. Indeed, you seem to have your wires crossed in that Scomo was expressing the same general sentiments as you. Your focus on anti-semitism is sort of for fair enough under the local geographical circumstances, but by doing so you are ignoring much greater and widespread aggression, violence and general and nastiness to "the other" throughout he world. This is in fact greatest against Christians, mainly by Muslims in lots of places, but also by Hindus in India, against Muslims in China, and of course Jews against Palestinians (Muslim and Christians) in Israel and on the West Bank/Gaza. Picking on vulnerable groups, and marking them out as different and for abuse, seems to be an universal feature of a nastier part of the human condition, and needs to be called out wherever it appears. If one calls our Israel for being the racist bad guys against Palestinians, especially when supported by extremist ideologues in the US, that is not in itself anti-semitism; indeed one needs to hear more on this and on the widespread abuses on Christians by Jews in Australia.

Eugene | 07 February 2019  

It would be interesting to see what the writer has to say about Ross Howard's comments, given that antisemitism is far more active in the UK, especially in Corbyn's Labour Party.

Angela | 07 February 2019  

Thank you Na'ama for the voice of civilization, the voice of reason, the voice of involvement. Pay no attention to those offering comments critical of you for not dealing with all the problems confronting humanity. In fact you were -you were dealing with hatred, ignorance and fundamental irrationality. Too many people, politicians prominent among them, sit around, watch and do nothing - such as in the 1930s when European Jews were seeking sanctuary only to be turned away - asylum seekers of today seeking sanctuary only to be turned away with lies and deceit - one could go on. It is obligatory for every citizen who claims to be civilised to condemn bigotry, hatred, selfishness and ignorance.

John Nicholson | 07 February 2019  

Thank you Na'áma Carlin for this important article about one of the real issues facing our society. It is crucial despite what some have said in the discussion that we do not sit around and watch antisemitism, racism or fascism rising. Like many countries in the modern world, we live in a multicultural society and such societies can only thrive when there is respect and compassion for people from all backgrounds in them. We also need to ensure that the people involved in maintaining law and order in society do not harbour discriminatory attitudes towards some sections of Australian society. One of the factors that contributed to this problem was the fact that during the Cold War, ASIO employed Nazi war criminals to spy on unionists and members of progressive organisations because they were vehemently opposed to the left. It must also be recognised that some pro Nazi individuals in terrorist organisations such as Ustasha, Dobromans, Arrow Cross etc got into the Liberal party and other conservative organisations. See Mark Aaron's book "War Criminals Welcome" which gives a very detailed account. The novel, "The Twentieth Man", written by Tony Jones (yes the one of QANDA fame!) touches on these issues as they related to the Ustasha bombings of Yugoslav agencies in Australia during 1972-1973 and the lack of cooperation of ASIO at the time which led to the then AG raiding ASIO HQ in Melbourne.(see: https://evatt.org.au/papers/tony-jones-lionel-murphy-asio-croatian-fascism.html for more details) . And on the issue of antisemitism, we must remember that Arabs are also Semites, so we should not tolerate discrimination against Palestinians by Zionist Christians or Jews. Palestinians also suffer greatly from antisemitism.

Andrew (Andy) Alcock | 07 February 2019  

I can understand the feelings that Na'ama and anyone Jewish, especially those with a family member who was a Holocaust survivor, would have about the recent rise in anti-Semitic outpourings and incidents. Anyone in this country should be free to go about their legitimate daily business without the fear of being insulted and/or assaulted. Barry Gittins is not that farfetched in his prognostication of what might come if this situation is not properly addressed. Moseley's Fascists used to parade through the East End of London in the 1930s, hold anti-Semitic rallies and attack Jewish people and their businesses. Many at the highest levels in the British Establishment were in favour of Moseley and the Nazis. It was only when Britain went to war against Germany that Moseley was imprisoned and all this stopped. Some far right groups have attempted to infiltrate the Youth Wing of the Nationals. Whilst I think few Australians are supporters of the extreme right, I think we need to be extremely cautious.

Edward Fido | 07 February 2019  

After Emperor Constantine's rise to supreme power in Western Europe in 312/313 Christianity flourished and the influence of non-christian Jews diminished. The followers of Christ became "the chosen people" and the descendants of Shem became the perfidious Jews. It wasn't until the Czarist persecution of the Jewish diaspora in Russia and Poland in the 19th century that Thodor Herzl was inspired to do something about re-unifying the ancient Jewish nation. In 1897 he convened the first World Zionist Congress in Basle. Chaim Weizmann insisted that such a nation could only be re-created in Palestine. Bad luck Palestinians! Realpolitik British-style said okay. The Catholic Church over the centuries had not exactly covered itself in charity towards the Jews. It really only clarified its position at the Second Vatican Council in the Declaration on the Relations of the Church to Non-Christians (Approved October 1965 by a vote of 2221 to 88). That minority of 88 Bishops worries me even fifty four years later. What were they thinking?

Uncle Pat | 07 February 2019  

Australians have for years had an opportunity to make one dabbler in ‘alt-right’ ideas a significant actor in our parliaments – but One Nation, in its ebbs and flows, has gone nowhere in two decades. What makes Carlin think that the same electorate which consistently refuses to give more than a token legislative presence to a scrubbed up version of ‘alt-right’ will fall at the feet of an unruly version? Have we not once had Jim Saleam, now consigned by the forces of Australian history to anonymity? Come to think of it, In America, the most prominent current locus of the “‘strong man’ populism” referred to by Barry Gittins, where free speech is a constitutional right and extremes can be as noisy as they like, where is Steve Bannon in the current ‘strong man populist’ Administration? These types come and go and they always remain fringe. The real anti-Semitism is to be anti-Israel, as referred to by Ross Howard, but in this regard the current Australian legislative avatar of ‘alt-right’, Pauline Hanson, actually scrubs up very well.

roy chen yee | 08 February 2019  

What is especially conspicuous about Na’ama Carlin’s article is the complete absence of any reference to Islamic anti-semitism. What’s even more astonishing is that as an Israeli Jew she would have constantly been exposed to the virulent and literally murderous hatred so many Moslems have towards the Jews in Israel and elsewhere in the world. These people want to eradicate Israel and the Jews. And yes, of course neo-Nazi groups in Australia and elsewhere should be condemned. And in the 1930s and ‘40s, especially In Nazi German, they posed a dire existential threat to the Jews. But now they are little more than a deranged fringe movement, and have been since the 1960s. A far greater menace to the Jews in Australia and other societies comes from Moslem fanatics who as we know will readily murder and assassinate anyone they deem an offence to their prophet. Consider this: In 2018 the Voice of Islam, a Sydney-based radio station, invited to Australia Mohammad Ali Nabulsi, an Islamic preacher who described Jews as “a collection of defects and imperfections, vices and evils” deserving of extermination! Conversations I’ve had with a couple of Moslems show a frightening degree of anti-semitism. Two blamed most of the problems/wars of the world on the Jews. One of them even endorsed the Holocaust against the Jews, saying it was “a bloody good thing what Hitler did”.

Dennis | 08 February 2019  

Unfortunately the conversation here has centred upon either siding with Ms Carlin or disagreeing with her. That Anti-Semitism, a pernicious phenomenon with catastrophic historic consequences, is rising there can be no doubt. The even greater tragedy is that Israel, with its history of arising out of gross persecution of the Jewish people, cannot see that Zionism - at least in the Middle-East and to most Muslims - bears a major responsibility for this, especially attendant upon the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Ceding it back to the Palestinian people will go a long way towards exposing the real anti-Semites, who are, on all available evidence, fanatical right-wing race-theorists.

Michael Furtado | 09 February 2019  

Wow Uncle Pat, you certainly know how to hold a grudge. 54 years! Not to mention a lack of charity. Surely the most plausible reason that that small minority of bishops voted against the text of Nostra Aetate was that there were some few phrases that they didn't feel completely comfortable signing their name to as an authoritative episcopal teaching document. The by far least plausible explanation is your amazingly rash conclusion that they must have been anti-Semites.

Peter K | 09 February 2019  

Arabs are actually the largest group of semites related to the ancient semites, European Jews have nothing to do with semites, they are Caucasian the same as me. If the author wants to claim there is a real rise in the hatred of Jewish people she and all others need to say so, the whole anti Semitism has grown old and tired and we need to sing another song.

Marilyn | 09 February 2019  

It is obvious why anti-semitism is on the increase. Due to extensive Islamic propaganda in a very subtle way - "Hijrah" - jihad by emigration!

Elena Christe | 09 February 2019  

It is interesting that the problem of the Palestinians has been raised as one of the causes in the rise in anti-Semitism in the Muslim World and amongst the Muslim diaspora. This is obviously true. There are many Israelis and other Jewish people who have spoken up about the mistreatment of Palestinians and the need for a just peace in the area. Once we get into discussing Zionism in its historic and contemporary forms we get into complicated territory where you really need to know what you are talking about. The rise of political Zionism and the beginning of the end of the Ottoman Empire were roughly contemporaneous. Without these two factors and the Balfour Declaration and its consequences after the two World Wars, we would not have the current situation. A British ex-Army officer, who had served in the region, said he felt the problem with Israelis and Palestinians was not a case of right and wrong but rights and rights. I think this is true. The extension of settlements on the West Bank has not assisted a potential settlement. Whilst the current situation continues I see no diminution in anti-Semitism in the Muslim World and diaspora.

Edward Fido | 15 February 2019  

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