MEDIA RELEASE: ECAJ annual Report on Antisemitism in Australia [2021]

December 15th, 2021

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), Australia’s peak elected national Jewish roof body, has released its annual Report on Antisemitism in Australia.  The report can be viewed and downloaded here.

The following are the principle findings:

  • During the twelve-month period to 30 September 2021, there were 447 antisemitic incidents logged by the ECAJ, volunteer Community Security Groups (CSGs), and official Jewish state roof bodies.
  • This was an increase of 35% over the 331 incidents logged in the previous year.
  • Overall, from 2020 to 2021, there were increases in the number of reported incidents in four categories:
    • abuse/harassment (up 14% from 128 in 2020 to 147 in 2021),
    • graffiti (up 152% from 42 to 106),
    • stickers/posters (up 157% from 28 to 72) and
    • vandalism (up by 10%, from 10 to 11).
  • The number of reported physical assaults remained the same at 8. There were minimal decreases in incidents of postal and telephone threats, and a larger decrease in email threats.
  • The average number of reported antisemitic incidents each year from 2013 to 2020 was 280. As such, the number of reported incidents in 2021 is above that average by 167 incidents.

Julie Nathan, ECAJ Research Director, and author of the Antisemitism Report, stated that, “The Israel-Hamas war in May 2021 contributed to the increase in antisemitic incidents. A total of 88 incidents was logged for the month of May alone, when the hostilities between Israel and Hamas occurred, compared to between 22 and 46 incidents for each of the other 11 months of the year.”

Ms Nathan said: “Behind the statistics lie some horrific personal stories of persistent antisemitic bullying of Jewish students at schools, the brutal physical assault of a man on his way to synagogue, the spray painting of “Free Palestine. Fuck Zionist. Free Palestine” on the signage at the front of a synagogue in Adelaide, the flying of a Nazi flag above a synagogue in Brisbane, and the draping of two Palestinian flags and two shredded Israeli flags at the front entrance of a synagogue in Sydney.  What is perhaps worse is the disgraceful discourse online and occasionally in the mainstream media of those who, for whatever reason, seek to rationalise or minimise this egregious behaviour.”

In addition to the deliberate targeting of synagogues, Jewish schools, and  Jewish-owned businesses, there was also the deliberate targeting of private Jewish homes, in the form of anti-Israel graffiti on front fences of the homes of Jewish families.

Another prominent theme of the antisemitic discourse expressed during the year was a focus on blaming “the Jews” for the COVID-19 pandemic, notably by COVID-19 denialists as well as by many of those opposed to government health measures, including vaccination mandates and lockdowns,” Nathan said.

In addition, Nathan warned of “extremist groups and individuals, whether religious or ideological, who continued to espouse violence against Jews”. Nathan identified the main offenders as the extremist Islamist group, Hizb ut’Tahrir, and the neo-Nazi group, National Socialist Network.

Nathan called upon political leaders, the media, law enforcement, academics, faith leaders, and others in positions of power or influence, to act to counter antisemitism in all its forms.

It was heartening that Australia recently gave official endorsement to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism”, she said.“The ECAJ has been using that definition since 2016 as a standard for gauging antisemitic discourse.  To be effective, the definition will now need to be adopted by the public and private sectors, the University sector, civil society, school education systems and sporting organisations among others”.


Peter Wertheim AM | Co-CEO, ECAJ
phone: 02 8353 8500 | m: 0408 160 904 |