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Don't sit and watch antisemitism rising

  • 06 February 2019


'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.

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