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Icing on the Hate

October 9 was vile no matter the chant

'Gas the Jews' simply the icing on the hate.

NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Mal Lanyon at last Friday's press conference. Photo: Screenshot
NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Mal Lanyon at last Friday's press conference. Photo: Screenshot

Imagine if, just two days after Brenton Tarrant’s horrendous murder of 51 Muslims at two Christchurch mosques in 2019, a mob had gone to the Sydney Opera House to celebrate.

Picture flags being burned, flares being set off and vile chants against all Muslims. Imagine behaviour so boisterously odious that Muslim Australians had to stay away for their own safety and felt threatened in their own city.

Such a heinous display would be condemned, and rightly so. Whether or not a particular slur among many was said would matter little to the overall repugnance of such an event; it would be castigated nonetheless by all Australians.

But when it is Jews who have been slaughtered, and Jews being threatened in their own city, all of a sudden the same standards do not apply.

The NSW Police announced last Friday that “there is no evidence” to suggest that “gas the Jews” was uttered in videos circulating online from the Sydney Opera House on October 9 and that an analysis of the recording by an expert has revealed the phrase used in it was “where’s the Jews”.

Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon, who I found to be a thoroughly decent bloke when I met him days after October 9, confirmed the police had received statutory declarations from people who were on the scene who heard “gas the Jews” but they did not identify any individuals.

As Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Alex Ryvchin said later that day, the police may have reached their conclusions but we know what we heard. And I won’t draw any inferences here about the fact that “gas the Jews” would meet the threshold under Section 93Z of the NSW Crimes Act for a prosecutable offence, whereas “where’s the Jews” does not.

But let’s ignore our own ears for a moment and assume “where’s the Jews” was indeed the offending phrase. There are many who have treated the police announcement as an absolution. From left-wing activist journalists to pro-Palestinian groups to the Australian National Imams Council, the police’s findings confirm “there was nothing to see here” on October 9. Many of them are demanding an apology. They claim it was our response to the vile celebration, not the rally itself, that has damaged community harmony in New South Wales.

But to think that the mere fact “where’s the Jews” was chanted instead of “gas the Jews” makes what happened on October 9 any more acceptable is ludicrous, insulting and dangerous.

Held just two days after the largest slaughter of Jews in a single day since the Holocaust, October 9 was one of the most disgusting antisemitic displays of celebration of murder this country has even seen, rivalled only by the sick scenes that occurred in Lakemba the night before.

“Gas the Jews” was simply the icing on the hate.

The corpses of the victims of Hamas’ bloody rampage through southern Israel were still warm; their blood was not yet dry. Numbers of the dead and those taken hostage were not yet known. Our community was reeling from the horrific descriptions and images in our news and social media feeds. Many were worried sick, still waiting to hear from loved ones in Israel that they were okay.

Taken by surprise, Israeli forces were still completing the task of securing the south; a coordinated military response had not yet begun to Hamas’s unprovoked attack.

What happened outside our country’s most recognisable landmark that night was not a protest against any Israeli actions. It was a celebration.

Having marched from the Sydney Town Hall to the Opera House in defiance of Premier Chris Minns lighting it up in blue and white in solidarity over Israel’s dead, the mob proceeded to rejoice in Hamas’ inhuman actions. They celebrated the murder of children, adults and the elderly; children and their parents being executed in front of the other, being bound together and burned alive and babies being executed. They celebrated mass rape. They celebrated the taking of civilian hostages. And they – beyond dispute, given police have at least verified “f**k the Jews” was chanted – celebrated these heinous Hamas crimes because the victims were Jews. Not Israelis. Jews.

It was unbridled, uncensored antisemitism on display. It brought worldwide shame to our multicultural nation. It does not change a thing if it was “gas the Jews” or “where’s the Jews” – a phrase that in itself echoes the Nazi Jew hunts during the Holocaust – that was chanted. The level of menace and Jew hatred, and the venomous intent to intimidate, remain unchanged.

The police knew this; our community was forewarned to stay away for our own safety and Anglican pastor Mark Leach was hauled away by police for his safety after unfurling an Israeli flag. Operation Shelter was launched later that very week to ensure public safety at events connected to the Israel–Hamas war.

So while we know what we heard, it really doesn’t matter. October 9 was a sick, depraved circus of hate and anyone who is morally bankrupt enough to defend that mob, or worse still turn the blowtorch back on our community, should be ashamed of themselves.

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