I think we need to mention the war

By “the war”, I mean world war II, of Basil Fawlty fame. The war during which the Holocaust happened.

Since the 7 October 2023 terrorist attacks on Israel by Hamas, there’s been an alarming upswing in antisemitism in Australia. What is antisemitism? A useful definition is:

a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance

Recent, appalling, examples include:

  • A doxing campaign against 600 Jewish creatives, involving the unlawful release of private details for the purposes of threatening and intimidation.
  • As a result of the doxing campaign, the forced closure of a gift shop run by a Jewish couple in Victoria: “The shop has been graffitied with ‘No Jews’ messages in the form of Stars of David with crosses through them. Regular custom has disappeared in a general boycott”. They received a photograph of their five-year-old child with a threat: “I know where you live”.
  • Recent public comments by New South Wales Greens MP Jenny Leong (who also happens to be my local member for the seat of Newtown): “The Jewish lobby and the Zionist lobby are infiltrating into every single aspect of what is ethnic community groups … their tentacles reach in to the areas that try and influence power, and I think that we need to call that out and expose it.” Leong has since apologised, but the damage was done.

This last comment is an example of one particularly insidious type of antisemitic behaviour, described by the International Holocaust Rememberance Alliance as:

Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.

Our Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, has expressed deep alarm about the situation, and the Greens MP’s comments in particular:

Albanese noted that the reference to tentacles has its origins in antisemitism and added, “I condemn it unequivocally.” He also condemned Islamophobic comments and behaviour. Albanese said Australia was experiencing the “worst social disharmony” he had seen, not only in his time in politics, but in his lifetime.


Therefore, I was glad this afternoon to be one of thousands attending a peaceful rally against antisemitism in Sydney’s Domain.

The rally was organised by “Never Again is Now”:

Never Again is Now, (NAIN), is a Christian grass roots movement educating and mobilising Christian’s to actively stand against most ancient of racial hatreds, antisemitism. …

We know that the history and politics of the Middle East is complicated and contested. However, we firmly believe that there is never an excuse for antisemitism. Whatever our views might be on the war in Gaza, we believe Australians must stand together in solidarity with our Jewish friends and neighbours.

Never Again is Now | Who Are We?

Appearing on the stage were many politicians along with Christian leaders including:

  • Sandy Grant, Dean of Sydney, representing Kanishka Raffel, Archbishop of Sydney:
  • John Anderson, former Deputy Prime Minister:
  • Michael Jensen, rector of St Mark’s Anglican Church, Darling Point
  • Mark Leach, rector of Darling St Anglican Church, Rozelle (MC and organiser)
  • … and more

In my scholarly work, I have a special interest in understanding Jewish identity in the Bible in a positive sense. See especially my books Paul and the Vocation of Israel and Reading Ephesians and Colossians after Supersessionism: Christ’s Mission through Israel to the Nations. Whatever the complexities of international politics and warfare, antisemitism should have no place in our Christian faith or in our communities.