“The intent here is to instil fear,” Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) co-CEO Alex Ryvchin said following a string of antisemitic incidents on the eve of Yom Kippur.
A concerned motorist spotted a car with a neo-Nazi number plate, while NSW Police confirmed a report was made after antisemitic and neo-Nazi graffiti was located at an address in Kensington.
“Officers attached to Eastern Beaches Police Area Command have commenced inquiries,” NSW Police said in a statement to The AJN, while urging anyone with more information to come forward.
Ryvchin said the graffiti “shows the hatred that lurks among us and the increasing brazenness of neo-Nazis in this country”.
“This graffiti has appeared in the eastern suburbs, which is home to a substantial Jewish community and occurred on the eve of the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. The intent is to instil fear in our community, but they will fail. Tens of thousands of Australians will mark Yom Kippur as we have done for thousands of years.”
Member for Wentworth Allegra Spender described the graffiti as “absolutely distressing”.
“When Parliament returns I’ll be voting for a national ban on Nazi symbols,” she said. “We must make it clear that there is no place for this kind of hateful ideology in our community.”
In another brazen neo-Nazi display over the High Holy Days, a car with the number plate “88 Sieg” was seen exiting the Western Distributor just before Darling Harbour. The number 88 is slang for ‘Heil Hitler’ and ‘sieg’ is German for ‘victory’.
The driver who reported the number plate said, “I was just disgusted that anyone could get away with parading this sort of neo-Nazi rubbish through the streets of our city in the 21st century. There is no place for it in Australia.”
According to The Sunday Telegraph, after the number plate was reported, Transport for NSW began the process of cancelling the registration, but Roads Minister John Graham said this should have never happened in the first place.
“There is no place in NSW for neo-Nazis. We are not going to tolerate hatred and intolerance being spread in the community,” he said.
“I have asked Transport for NSW to urgently tighten the system to prevent any repeat.”
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies president David Ossip said, “It is both confronting and concerning that this number plate was brazenly being displayed by a motorist driving around the streets of Sydney. It underlines the need for continued vigilance against the well-documented rise in Neo-Nazi sentiment.”
Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein welcomed the swift action by the NSW state government to review its filtering controls on the approval of vehicle registration plates in NSW.
“To those who observe neo-Nazi activity, 88 is a clear and unequivocal reference to the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. It is disgusting in the extreme and has no place on NSW streets,” Rubenstein said.
“This rego plate is offensive to the survivors of the Holocaust, their descendants and those in the Australian army who gave their lives fighting fascism. It is disturbing and totally offensive to see such a brazen display of neo-Nazism in NSW and Australia.”
Meanwhile in Melbourne, antisemitic graffiti sprawled across multiple concrete pillars – one declaring “Covid is a Jew” – appeared below an underpass ahead of Yom Kippur.
Ryvchin said the vile incidents mean the time has come for a national antisemitism education program across Australian schools “to provide resources and support to teachers and parents to understand and defeat this form of hatred, particularly before it spreads to universities, the workplace and broader society”.
“The ECAJ’s national antisemitism education initiative will support teachers, students and families by providing them with resources that explain antisemitism, and reduce the appeal of online extremism and conspiracy theories,” Ryvchin said.
”As the national roof body of the community, we will be working with state governments, schools and Jewish museums to deliver this groundbreaking program to defeat antisemitism in this country.”