RE-ELECTED MP for Berowra Julian Leeser despaired that the recent federal election campaign was “singularly the dirtiest and nastiest election I can remember”.
Focusing on antisemitism directed towards him and other Jewish candidates, while also expressing concern about the attacks on other minority groups, Leeser remarked, “It really left a disgusting feeling … It’s so un-Australian.”
Swastikas and Hitler moustaches were smeared on Leeser’s campaign material, and dollar signs graffitied on his eyes.
“A number of people didn’t understand the meaning of the dollar signs being painted on my face – a number of educated, thoughtful, non-Jewish people,” said Leeser, before emphasising the need for stronger education in the general community on the history and evils of antisemitism.
“We may need some new thinking in that space because educated people who are not Jewish don’t necessarily see things that [Jewish people] see,” he commented. “We’ve grown up with [these things] in a particular cultural milieu by being part of the community and carrying the history of being a Jewish person.”
Pointing to security funding as another issue requiring attention, Leeser remarked, “I was a very big advocate behind the scenes for the lobbying of increased funding for our community security – not just for the Jewish community but for all faith communities, and I think sadly we are living in a time now where that is absolutely vital.”
While the vandalism was deeply upsetting, Leeser found some consolation in support from others.
“Voters in the community came up to me repeatedly and expressed their solidarity,” he said. “The first religious group to come out and condemn the antisemitic displays on my posters was the local mosque.”