Memorial flowers and stars outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Picture: AP/Gene J. Puskar
Memorial flowers and stars outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Picture: AP/Gene J. Puskar

Ignorance behind shocking rise of anti-Semitism

FOR someone of my generation, who grew up with the horrors of the Holocaust imprinted in my mind by The Diary of Anne Frank and by conversations around the dinner tables of my family and our Jewish friends, it seems unthinkable that anti-Semitism and the symbols of the Nazi party would become fashionable again.

But here it is, the unthinkable, as The Daily Telegraph revealed this week: the Nationals party is investigating at least 35 NSW members for links to neo-Nazi groups.

A post made to a Facebook group by a Nationals member in January. Picture: Facebook
A post made to a Facebook group by a Nationals member in January. Picture: Facebook

The news is even more disturbing in light of the worst anti-Semitic violence in American history on the weekend, a terrorist attack by a neo-Nazi on a Pittsburgh synagogue in which 11 people were slaughtered.

The rise of anti-Semitism around the world has been shocking and rapid. An unholy alliance of Islamists, the anti-Israel left, and the far right has created a perfect storm which is forcing Jews out of Europe.

You see the evidence in the armed guards, bollards and bullet proof glass at synagogues and Jewish schools across Sydney.

At the same time, epithets such as "Nazi", "fascist", "bigot", "racist" are thrown around too readily as a way to shut people up. Donald Trump, for instance, is not a Nazi or a neo-Nazi.

If anything, he's a nationalist, populist, anti-globalist. His opponents try to frame the Trumpian movement as neo-Nazi and fascistic but all they do is trivialise those evils and make us less able to combat the rise of anti-Semitism.

You do wonder if young Australians have been taught any real history at school, aside from the useless black armband, social justice warrior boiler plate that goes in one ear and out the other.

Thankfully, study of the Holocaust, the Nazi genocide of 6 million European Jews in World War II, was made mandatory for Year 9 and 10 students in NSW in 2014, after lobbying by the Board of Jewish Deputies.

It must have been too late for the silly Young Nats, but it's never too late to learn.