The discoveries this week of a bevy of Nazi paraphernalia by Australian police across Queensland sent a “shudder” through the local Jewish community, the president of the northeastern state’s Jewish Board of Deputies said on Friday.
“It is a disturbing reality these raids uncovered the vile link between right-wing extremism and organized crime,” said QJBD President Jason Steinberg.
“Revelations like this also send a shudder through the Queensland Jewish community, who have been concerned about the rise in antisemitism across Europe and other parts of Australia,” he said.
Steinberg said the solution to these problems rests in education, and he called for the establishment of a Holocaust and Tolerance Museum in Queensland to help counter the trend.
Steinberg’s comments came after Australian police arrested 61 people in Queensland this week with ties to neo-Nazi gangs.
As part of the raid, police seized a bevy of Nazi paraphernalia, including flags and symbols of the Third Reich, and even an apparent shrine filled with flags, banners, pendants and painted symbols, in a shed at one activist’s home.
Steinberg noted a “significant surge in antisemitic attacks” in Australia last year, which dovetails with a global trend.
Australia registered 312 anti-Jewish attacks in 2014, up from 231 the year before, according to research by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University.
Among those attacks last year, in Sydney, eight teenagers boarded a bus of Jewish schoolchildren, terrorizing the children by screaming “Heil Hitler” and threatening to slit their throats. A Melbourne man wearing an IDF T-shirt was attacked by two assailants who called him a “Jewish dog,” around the time of the summer war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. And Rabbi Avraham Shalom Halberstam of Jerusalem was attacked at a Perth shopping center by six youths accusing him of “killing babies in Gaza.”
“Until we have such an avenue to educate the general public, antisemitism in all its forms will prevail. We can’t let that happen,” said Steinberg.