Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Monday 30 May 2011

Jewish Student Allegedly Attacked On Australian Campus For Celebrating Israeli Independence Day

Melbourne, capital of the state of Victoria, Australia, was founded in 1835, and Jews, of English origin, were among its earliest inhabitants.  Immediately before, and following, the Second World War, the Melbourne Jewish community  - by that time highly assimilationist and eroded by apathy and intermarriage - was transformed by the arrival of large numbers of refugees and Holocaust survivors, who turned the community into the "shtetl by the [River] Yarra," ensuring the domination of communal affairs by Jews of Polish rather than Anglo- heritage, and orienting Melbourne Jewry into a decidedly Zionist stance.

The period immediately following the Second World War wrought other changes on Melbourne, the staid financial capital of Australia.  The immigration of large numbers of continental Europeans, predominantly Greeks and Italians, helped to turn the city into the diverse, cosmopolitan hub that it is today.  The process continued with the dismantling, from the 1960s onwards, of the "White Australia" policy that had been adopted by the newly federated Australia in 1901.

Designed principally to stop the arrival of "cheap labour" from South-East Asia, the "White Australia" policy had its origins in New South Wales and Queensland during the 1880s, when legislators bowed to pressure from working men worried about competition from Chinese "coolies" and Pacific Islanders, as well as merchants fearing economic competitors from Japan.

At Federation in 1901 a language test was instituted for intending immigrants, to be administered by immigration officers at the ports of entry.  Non-British immigrants had to satisfy officers that they spoke English or another approved European language (which until the intervention of communal leaders did not include Yiddish).

The language test proved to be a useful device to keep out political undesirables - as when the prominent Czech (Jewish) Communist Egon Kisch arrived in the 1934.  Since he spoke good English, he was given the test in Gaelic, of which he obviously knew not a word!  (This led to a celebrated test case, which Kisch, thanks to his barrister, Joan Rosanove, the first female barrister in the state, won.)

The end of the White Australia policy - which had also discriminated against Sephardim from the Levant and Middle East - led to the arrival of many non-Europeans, including Muslims.  Most of Melbourne's Muslims are Turks, but in recent years there have been Muslim arrivals of other origins, and a branch of the notorious Hizb-ut Tahrir organisation was recently set up.

During Operation Cast Lead, an anti-Israel rally in the city centre saw the manifestation of overt antisemitism, as in the accompanying photographs - one in particular staggeringly vile.  As well as as Muslim anti-Israel protesters, there's the usual crowd of leftwingers. One source of virulent antisemitic propaganda used to be a centrally located bookshop run by a nutty far-right group called the Australian League of Rights, founded in 1946, but most of its members would seem now to be settled in that land from which no traveller ever returns.

Now, as I've said, Melbourne's is a strongly Zionist Jewish community, and on Yom Ha-Atzmaut members of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) at the University of Melbourne - the oldest and most venerable institution of higher learning in the state of Victoria - were celebrating Israel's 63rd birthday.  It was not a political demonstration - it was a lunchtime event of singing and dancing on the campus lawn, and the Student Union, to which AUJS is affiliated, had given permission for it.

But a flyer, it appears, had gone out from two anti-Israel groups - Students for Palestine and the Federation of Australian Muslim  Students and Youth (FAMSY) - calling on members to "rally against Zionists' apartheid celebrations".

According to the current edition of the Australian Jewish News (Melbourne edition), someone from the "counter-rally," wielding wirecutters, apparently attempted to vandalise the stereo that was playing Israeli music, and then attacked one of the Jewish students with the wirecutters, causing him injury.  Two individuals were arrested by police, who were standing by with campus security guards.

A spokesman for the students is reported as saying that he doesn't understand why permission for the "counter-rally" was granted - the two groups involved are not affiliates of the university - and that the AUJS members had taken "all the right precautions".

John Searle, president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV), is quoted by the newspaper as saying:
"What AUJS was doing was a quiet, peaceful celebration.  They ought not to be scared to express their passion for being Jewish and being Zionist."
Like the AUJS, he's called on police to lay charges against the attacker, for possession of a weapon, vandalism, and assault

Noting that this violent incident has been reported nowhere but the Melbourne Jewish press (and that tardily, it would seem), some Aussies have been muttering darkly about a deliberate cover-up.

I'm not going to link to one online source of that nature (where other related material can be found) since when I did earlier today the link turned my post headings and other labels ghastly  shades of violet and cobalt!  Just suffice it to say Australian Islamist Monitor ...

(Hat tip: reader Shirlee)

To reiterate: these photos, taken in Melbourne, do not relate to this incident.


  1. Reading the diaries by Victor Klemperer 1933-1941 at the moment, where he describes in detail the daily life during Nazism, I am completely flabbergasted at the similarities between what happened then in Germany and what is happening now, globally.

    I am only in October 1933 now, and have 11 more years of this outstanding work to read.

    If I think that it took the Nazis basically only 12 years, I shudder and urge anyone not only to speak out now, but to scream out!!

    I also urge everyone to read this work by Victor Klemperer. It is translated in english.

  2. Hi Daphne,

    Thanks for this piece and thanks again for your blog.

    It is concerning that pro -Israeli students on major campuses still have to put up with this crap. I say still because I recall incidents like this and worse at UQ in the seventies. It was exactly the same people as now. Hard line old leftist cults and obscure Muslim groups. They hang around universities and left of centre political parties like flies at a Barcaldine BBQ. The students are handling it well I think. Report the incidents and follow through.

    I have to take some issue with your brief history of Melbourne Jewry and your assessment of the pre-war "Anglos", who I am happy to stick up for, since that is (mainly) where I come from I guess. At least as far as their contribution to Zionism especially when it most counted.

    I recall reading a history when it was published many years ago (the Rubensteins'?) which had something like yours as a theme. I was pleased to see Zelman Cowan and others leap to the defence of the Anglos. Zionism was alive and well in Melbourne from the start and I know for certain Melbourne Jews were actively engaged in rescuing people from the 1920's on.

    Isaac Isaacs is a notorious exception. But he was a British colonialist as much as a Jew and he was very old when he said his worst stuff. Also pre war established Melbourne Jews were by no means all British. John Monash was a Zionist and his parents were German. There were also many Russian Jews from well before the First World War.


  3. Thanks, Rita - you are very perceptive, as always.

    Geoff, many thanks for your interesting comment.
    I recall Radio 3CR had an anti-Israel spot in the '80s, presented I think by trade unionist Bill Hartley. Then John Bennett and the Holocaust Deniers and revisionists emerged, defending the Arthur Butz book.

    As well as Isaaca there was of course also Rabbi "Anglo-Danglow" - who changed his name from Danglowitz at the request of the St Kilda Congregation - "and thereby lost his wits" some Zionists joked.
    He was similar to Isaacs in attitude, but when Israel was founded changed his tune and was extremely supportive.

  4. I remember Bill Hartley. He was prominent in the ALP SL faction in the seventies and a protege of Clyde Cameron in Whitlam's cabinet. At one point he was third on the ALP Senate ticket. Jewish and other ALP members organised an alternative ticket and he was defeated. He was expelled from the ALP in the eighties.



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