The recent assault on a Jewish teenager in Melbourne — by a pair of racist bogans armed with baseball bats and blonde mullets — has prompted a more extensive AAP article on anti-Semitism in Australia, Anti-Semitism ‘reaching scary levels’ (The Age, August 23, 2007). The impetus for the article is presumably provided by the fact that the bashing follows on from the widely-publicised assault on Jewish businessman Menachem Vorchheimer last October (by a number of incredibly brave Ocean Grove footballers), and racist Internet postings made earlier this month by some other terrifically sporting cricketers from McKinnon. Note that, to its credit, McKinnon Cricket Club appears to have responded much more positively to the racist commentary (allegedly) made by some of its senior members than Ocean Grove Football Club did in relation to the racist abuse and assault of Vorchheimer: in the immediate aftermath, club coach Matthew Sproule denied any wrongdoing on the part of his boys. (The situation was further complicated by the involvement of an off-duty policeman in the incident.)
An extract from the article:
…In Victoria last year, Jewish organisations recorded 160 anti-Semitic incidents while the [Executive Council of Australian Jewry] listed 442 incidents Australia-wide in the year ending September 2006.
At the end of the Second World War, Australia could boast the largest number of Holocaust survivors per capita outside Israel after accepting thousands of Jewish refugees, mostly from Poland. The latest census showed there were 50,000 Jews living in Victoria, but Jewish leaders believe the number is closer to 80,000 because many people do not feel comfortable recording their religion.
Jewish Holocaust Museum executive director Bernard Korbman says 30 survivors of the Holocaust work as volunteers at the centre in Elsternwick and they have been shaken by what happened at Glick’s. “It wasn’t just the bashing, but what they were yelling out as they did it – things like ‘go back to where you belong, you f…ing Jew’,” Mr Korbman said. “We are Australians, this is where we come from. The Holocaust survivors have told me how much they see Australia as a safe haven and how much they love it and respect its democratic institution. But these people are trying to disenfranchise us of our country and our nationality.”
The Glick’s attack also reverberated in State Parliament where Premier John Brumby said such behaviour was totally unacceptable. “Our sympathy obviously goes out to the particular individual and to members of the Jewish community, but moreover, to any member of an ethnic or minority community which is assaulted or abused,” Mr Brumby said. “Such behaviour has never been a part of the culture that we have in this state. We pride ourselves on being the multicultural capital of Australia.”
That “Such behaviour has never been a part of the culture that we have in this state” is, of course, an outrageous lie; ‘such behaviour’ as violent assault having been a rather crucial element of the state’s foundation (to say nothing of the White Australia policy which formed its ongoing basis for most of the twentieth century). Thus:
In Victoria it has been estimated that the Koori population declined by about 60% in just 15 years between 1835 and 1850 as more than 68 individual ‘massacres’ were perpetrated in that period. Indeed, according to [a] representative of the North West Clans of Victoria, Mr Gary Murray, of the 38 clans that lived in Victoria B.C. (Before Cook) only 24 today have living descendants. By 1850 virtually all active resistance to the invasion had been quelled in Victoria. Census figures published in March 1857 showed that only 1,768 Aborigines were left in all of that state. ~ Gary Foley, Australia and the Holocaust: A Koori Perspective, 1997
Nevertheless, Brumby is indeed correct to note that contemporary Melbourne is a multicultural city, and public, organised forms of anti-Semitism currently have a very limited presence on the Australian political landscape. Instead, over time, political expressions of hatred for Jews, while maintaining local roots, have evolved into globalised, electronic-based forms. Stormfront, for example, is the world’s largest gathering of anti-Semites, and has a section dedicated to promoting hatred of Jews and assorted other forms of racialised prejudice within Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand. Despite claiming many tens of thousands of members, the active membership probably numbers no more than a few hundred. Nevertheless, these several hundred belong to probably all the major racist right-wing institutions in Australasia, from the geriatric bigots associated with The League of Rights to more recent interventions such as the Australia First Party, online forum Australian New Nation and the New Zealand National Front, as well as more straightforwardly neo-Nazi ‘skinhead’ (sic) groupings such as Blood & Honour and the Hammerskins.
Racism, punks and yuppies
In Melbourne, the yuppification of punk, combined with the residues of the more classically reactionary — though contested — genre that is heavy metal, has resulted in a more depoliticised subcultural milieu, one in which the presence of boneheads, both on stage and at gigs, is certainly tolerated (if not publicly acknowledged). The best recent example of this is the band Bulldog Spirit. Originally from Canberra, drummer Joel is a bonehead, and has previously recorded and toured with neo-Nazi bands including Deaths Head, Fortress and Ravenous. Some punk bands have also voiced their support for a local neo-Nazi venue, The Birmingham Hotel, in Fitzroy.
On a micro-political level, then, the punk subculture reveals the same sorts of tensions as exist within the broader public sphere: bourgeois indifference to struggles for freedom and equality is matched by a laissez-faire attitude towards the nature of political projects supported. As further example, two minor local punk distributors — Deadset Music in Melbourne and Snapshot Records in Sydney — happily make money from the sale of music produced by neo-Nazi, fascist and White Power bands and labels. In addition, both Fiona Deadset and Jay Snapshot count boneheads among their closest friends and allies; Fiona further lending her support to B&H and the SCHS by attending last year’s memorial gig, and Jay lending his support for the venue in which it took place by attempting to organise a gig at ‘The Birmy’.
In an earlier period, fascist infiltration was sometimes dealt with by way of some of the more spiky punks adopting a zero tolerance approach — again, whether at gigs or on the streets. Some even adopted the same approach as The Baldies did at another time and place: attack on sight. More generally, however, the failure to not only develop autonomous institutions — not only labels, but more crucially social centres and venues — but even the failure to recognise their importance, lends itself to forms of cultural and political recuperation (and the dominance of owners and promoters) antithetical to the anarchic spirit of the best of ‘punk rock’ culture. Further, the emphasis on the development of a reactionary hyper-masculinity in punk and ‘hardcore’ — aside from encouraging bands like Black Fag, Gayrilla Biscuits and Youth of Togay — has also witnessed a concomitant de-emphasis on developing collective forms of struggle. Instead much — though of course not all — of the political terrain is occupied by chickenshit conformists, fashion victims, yuppies with gym memberships, and jocks with spiky hair… although to what extent depends, as always, on the patience of those who know ‘punk’ to be something more and other than this.
Within more mainstream (read: elite) circles, anti-Semitism is rarely endorsed, at least seldom directly. Thus while Alexander Downer’s address to The League of Rights caused him some minor embarrassment, and Pauline Hanson’s address to the Inverell Forum drew some further media attention, few others are willing to be seen to be associated with such bigotry (or at least not openly).
Anti-Semitism, Stormfront Down Under & the Sydney Forum
Stormfront, on the other hand, is resolutely and unashamedly anti-Semitic, and all who join it — including individuals such as Dr James Saleam and Welf Herfurth of AF / the Sydney Forum and Luke Connors in Melbourne (formerly of the now defunct youth wing of the AF, the Patriotic Yoof League) — are obviously aware of this fact, and endorse it. Or as one Little Hitler puts it:
Here is the current Statement of Stormfront policy:
…First, we share a racialist vision for the general prosperity, security, and betterment of our people.
From that commitment flows our most important message: we name the Jew as the deadliest, if not the only, threat to our existence as a race. Forge this message in titanium.
…That, in a nutshell, is Stormfront policy.
–Chief of Staff, Stormfront
Two upcoming events of interest to anti-Semites and members of the far right generally are this weekend’s Sydney Forum and the Ian Stuart Donaldson memorial gig in Melbourne in October. I’ve discussed both previously, but organisers of the Sydney Forum (Saleam & Co.) have since announced that their special international guests are a Croatian fascist by the name of Dr. Tomislav Sunic and an anonymous speaker from Palestine.
Like many other English-speaking far right intellectuals, it seems, Sunic is a former US academic, whose work seeks to expand upon that of previous fascist intellectuals such as Carl Schmitt. He most recently addressed a meeting of the Institute for Historical Review in March of this year, while in 2004, Sunic addressed the official launch of “New Right” in the UK. Sunic’s address to another fascist gathering (“Euro-Fest 2003”) the year previously is reported by the SPLC as follows:
…billed as the highlight of the evening, was a former Croatian diplomat whose topic was “Europe Under Attack: From the Early Islamic Onslaught to Communist Disaster.” Tomislav Sunic began by telling the audience about his childhood in Croatia, his visit to Amsterdam as a young man, smoking pot and listening to the Grateful Dead. After that, he said, he went on to get his Ph.D. in political science in America.
Sunic’s central theme was that Europe has been repeatedly invaded by “alien” peoples and that whites have become a minority in Western Europe. He railed on about non-white immigrants, ending with the Turkish workers who have moved to Germany. “The Turks,” he said, “are enslaving white people in Germany.”
“Wow,” [National] Alliance leader Stojkovic said as Sunic ended. “I am really moved.”
Further tear-jerking is revealed in White Nationalism: National Vanguard, Confederate Knights are Kaput, Intelligence Report, No.126, Summer 2007.
To Be Concluded…
See also : Jeremy Jones, Confronting Reality: Anti-Semitism in Australia Today, Jewish Political Studies Review, 16:3-4 (Fall 2004): “Paranoid and extremist views about the “political and economic establishment” have drawn together far-Right, far-Left, and some anarchist groups in opposition to “globalization,” to various government policy proposals that they perceive as empowering a state that is an enemy, and to Israel. There has been almost interchangeable anti-Semitic rhetoric coming from groups that would regard themselves as being diametrically opposed, politically and ideologically.”