When I was younger and my family would playfully debate where we’d go if Jews suddenly needed to flee America, Australia was always one of the top answers. We could hide in the Outback maybe, plus Australians were laid back. The comic Shane Gillis does a bit about how nothing sounds sinister when it’s said in the Oz accent.

I seem to have misjudged the land down under. It does, in fact, sound quite sinister when a protest leader shouts into a microphone that, because Israel is a “colonialist” state, it “will only be overcome by greater violence.” Even the accent couldn’t soften that one.

The comment was made in a demonstration in front of the Sydney Opera House just days after Hamas’s October 7 massacre. The demonstration was, of course, in support of the attacks.

That rally has been back in the news recently after police investigated allegations that the crowd could be heard chanting “gas the Jews!” But don’t worry, an “expert review had concluded the phrase uttered was ‘where’s the Jews’, although other antisemitic phrases had been chanted.” Don’t you feel silly now.

Hysterical mass incitement has become quite common at these pro-Hamas rallies, which have proliferated ever since the attacks. But the situation devolved further last week when the feminist activist Clementine Ford made public the personal details of members of a WhatsApp group for Jewish creatives. Mob harassment immediately followed. Jewish members of the group have had to move out of their homes, their businesses have been vandalized, and they are getting flooded with threats. One couple “received a photograph of their 5-year-old child with the note reading, ‘We know where you live.’”

According to ABC News, the list of doxxed Jews numbers about 600. The threats and intimidation have gotten so bad that the state is proposing to criminalize doxxing. “The recent targeting of members of the Australian Jewish community through those practices like doxxing was shocking but, sadly, this is far from being an isolated incident,” Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said. (Interesting last name.)

Indeed, a wildfire of anti-Semitism has spread so quickly and so deliberately and so viciously that lawmakers seem to think beefing up the criminal code is the only way to prevent this from going where anti-Israel activists are steering it—mass violence. “Australian lawmakers have banned the performance of the Nazi salute in public and outlawed the display or sale of Nazi hate symbols such as the swastika in landmark legislation that went into effect in the country Monday,” CBS reported last month. “The new laws also make the act of glorifying or praising acts of terrorism a criminal offense.”

One reason it’s spiraled this far is that respected public figures see fit to specifically target Australian Jews, not just Israel, with their rhetoric. “Why are Australian Jews so intractably bent on justifying what Israel is doing to Palestinians?” asked prominent Australian human-rights attorney Julian Burnside.

In Newsweek, the novelist Megan Goldin gives a rundown of the professional consequences hitting the Jewish members of that WhatsApp group in the wake of the doxxing. Saxophonist Joshua Moshe was fired by his band, which apparently put out a statement proclaiming that they “explicitly condemn any forms of Zionism, racism, bullying, and antisemitism.” Actress Sarah-Jane Feiglin had been harassed so much by colleagues in her improv group that she was booted for being too “emotional” about the October 7 attacks.

The Hamas attacks revealed a certain moral rot hiding in plain site across the Western world. Australia seems to have embraced that anti-Semitic rot more enthusiastically than most.

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