Anti-Semitic incidents in Australia hit record high

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sydney, australia | Anti-Semitic incidents in Australia have reached record levels, according to a new report.

Jeremy Jones, a former president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, told the annual general meeting of the umbrella organization Dec. 1 that 652 reports of anti-Jewish violence, vandalism, harassment and intimidation were recorded by Australian Jewish organizations between Oct. 1, 2007 and Sept. 30, 2008.

The unprecedented results were a 2 percent increase over the 638 incidents recorded between 2006 and 2007.

“The latest 12-month period saw the highest-ever tally, at a rate close to twice the average of the previous 18 years,” Jones said in a statement. He has produced an annual report on anti-Semitism in Australia since 1989.

Among the most severe instances of anti-Semitism cited in the new report were 58 incidents of physical assault, including Jewish youths who were attacked in Melbourne in October 2007; a Jewish teenager who was punched and vilified in Sydney in November 2007; an Orthodox man who was abused and punched in the face in Sydney in January 2008; and four Orthodox Jews in Perth who were physically assaulted in May 2008.

Jones, who is also the director of community affairs for the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, said that although there were no firebombings of synagogues this year, there was a “worrying increase” in assaults on, and harassment of, Jewish families walking to and from synagogue. — jta