In 1945, addressing delegates from around the world that gathered in San Francisco to launch the United Nations, President Truman said: “Hitler is finished – but the seeds spread by his disordered mind have a firm root in too many fanatical brains. It is easier to remove tyrants and destroy concentration camps than it is to kill the ideas that gave them birth.”
Truman was right.
Antisemitism is always here.
Four years ago this month, Robert Bowers, a white supremacist, entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh during Sabbath services.
Screaming, “All Jews must die,” and armed with an assault rifle, the evil gunman murdered eleven worshippers and wounded six others.
To date, this shooting is the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the U.S.
It’s a day that I will never forget, and one which still makes me weep.
I wish I could say it cannot happen here.
But I can’t.
On our home soil, white supremacists that used to clandestinely gather in the bowels of internet apps are now stepping out of the shadows and have been infesting our neighbourhoods with nasty fliers and graffiti.
As ASIO Director Burgess has warned, neo-Nazis represent one of the most serious extremist-related threats in Australia today.
A recent report revealed that far-right terrorism investigations have increased by 750 per cent in 18 months.
What’s more, such individuals operate both in groups and as lone wolves, and the size of the movement is significantly greater than just the members of those ideologically violent groups.
Online incitement can and does explode into the real world with lethal consequences.
The world’s oldest hatred is also the deadliest virus because it seemingly has no cure and has, throughout history, infected every nation on earth.
It is also an early warning signal for society because we know that mass murder and industrial extermination are never the beginning.
Tolerating evil, excusing prejudice, compromising on sacred principles and indifference— these are the streetlamps on the road to hell.
That’s where the Holocaust started.
That in every generation, Jews have been the scapegoats for nearly all of the world’s ills is nothing new.
As a people, we have witnessed every imaginable expression of cruelty, and some that could not be imagined.
Australia is a wonderful country and one of the most accepting of Jews.
Yet, we should all be alarmed by the continually evolving depravity of antisemitism that has bubbled above the surface and has reared its ugly head over the last few years.
There is a dawning awareness that the targeting of Jews can happen anywhere—in schools where kids taunt their Jewish peers with ‘Heil Hitlers”, on the streets where Jews are attacked, at universities, in workplaces and online.
Most worryingly, users are posting their unvarnished anti-Jewish bigotry under their own names.
It demonstrates the overarching theme of the loss of shame about antisemitism.
This is not normal.
Anti-Jewish bigotry should prompt every Australian, especially non-Jews, to stand up and cry: Enough!
And over the last few years, anti-vaxxers and antisemites have become blood brothers as Australian anti-lockdown activists have let loose with a toxic brew of ancient tropes.
Their networks have become hotbeds of conspiracy theories with an easy-to-digest organizing principle— Israel and a cabal of Jews engineered the virus in their quest to establish a ‘New World Order’, sterilize the white race and then profiteer from the vaccine.
Old wine in new bottles—the Jews are behind it all.
I spoke to a colleague in Europe. The stories of antisemitism he told me were heartbreaking.
He warned me: “This is a glimpse into your future five-seven years from now unless you disrupt the volcano of antisemitism.”
I am hearing that in Melbourne, an increasing number of Jews are avoiding publicly wearing or displaying anything that might identify them as Jews.
Antisemitism is not a thing of the past and it did not die in the bunker with Hitler.
Complacency and ignoring the magnitude of this problem is no longer an option.
We should band together and fight back, so without any exception, a Jewish boy or girl will have the same right to be safe and be treated decently as anyone else.
And when kids are being harassed and intimidated simply for being Jewish, something is very wrong.
On this issue, we can’t cut anyone a break.
Dr Dvir Abramovich is Chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission and the author of seven books.