10,000 rally in Australia, protest jump in Jew-hatred since Oct. 7

By Mike Tucker
March 4, 2024

SYDNEY — A rally to condemn rising Jew-hatred drew 10,000 people here Feb. 18. Since Hamas’ pogrom Oct. 7, killing 1,200 Jews and others who lived and worked with them, and wounding thousands more, there has been a sharp increase in physical attacks, abuse, threats and vandalism targeting Jews and their homes, schools and businesses across Australia.

The “Never Again is Now” rally was called by Anglican Church Minister Mark Leach and organized by Christian groups and Jewish organizations.

Leach had made headlines Oct. 9 when he confronted pro-Hamas supporters chanting, “Kill the Jews” outside Sydney Town Hall. After unfurling an Israeli flag he was chased by thugs. Mark Spiro, a Jew, was the only person arrested by police that night when he sought to unfurl an Israeli flag as a counter-protest. Police had told Jews to stay away from the area.

Some 1,000 demonstrators had gathered at the Town Hall Oct. 9 to celebrate the Hamas pogrom. They rallied at the Sydney Opera House, which had been lit up in the colors of the Israeli flag as a show of solidarity with the victims of the slaughter. The mob chanted, “Where’s the Jews?”

“This was the chant used by Nazi SS officers” hunting down Jews across Europe during World War II, Warren Mundine, a long-time campaigner for Aboriginal rights, told the Feb. 18 rally. “Anyone who has looked at history for a mere second knows when a society tolerates an angry mob chanting against Jews, it will take that society down an ugly and destructive path.”

Other speakers at the rally included church leaders and politicians from the two main ruling capitalist parties. Supporters of the Communist League, selling the Militant and carrying a placard saying, “Fighting Jew-hatred is a union issue,” got a friendly response.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry reported there were 622 antisemitic incidents in October and November, a whopping 738% increase over the previous year. This includes physical assaults, verbal abuse and threats. Jewish businesses have been boycotted and vandalized. Graffiti painted on a Melbourne apartment block in November said, “Kill Jews. Jew lives here.”

“We want to mobilize to push back against the antisemitic hate,” Leach said.

The Jewish population of Australia numbers around 120,000, mostly in Sydney and Melbourne.