Sydney rally: A conflation of antisemitism with criticism of Israel 
Jewish Council raises concerns about false accusations of antisemitism and Holocaust references at pro-Israel rally on weekend
February 19, 2024

The Jewish Council of Australia is concerned about a pro-Israel rally, which took place over the weekend in Sydney, framed under the misleading banner of fighting antisemitism, and organised by the group ‘Never Again is Now’. The Council is concerned that some Jewish representative bodies supported this rally, which exploited Jewish fear about antisemitism and Holocaust memory for a pro-Israel agenda. 

This rally, and the others planned by ‘Never Again is Now’, platform speakers with long histories of bigotry and racism against Muslim people, Arabs and LGBTIQA+ people.

The lineup of speakers included people from organisations such as the Australian Christian Lobby, which has been listed as a far-right and extremist group for its anti-LGBTIQA+ policies. It also included speakers such as Senator Jacqui Lambie, who has been accused of making Islamophobic comments in the past.

The Jewish Council has serious concerns that ‘Never Again is Now’ promoted their event via co-hosted Instagram posts with well known far-right Canadian media outlet ‘Rebel News’, as well as other accounts which feature Islamophobic content. 

Many of the organisations supporting and sponsoring these rallies are Christian Zionist groups that support Israel and encourage Jews to migrate there with the express aim of hastening the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Speakers at the rally engaged in conflation of antisemitism with criticism of Israel and support for Palestinian human rights. Scott Morrison told the crowd that chants of “from the river to the sea” at Palestine solidarity rallies were antisemitic. He also attacked the United Nations for being antisemitic.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO, who attended the Sydney rally, told The Australian newspaper that the rallies sent a “powerful message” about antisemitism. 

Quotes from Sarah Schwartz, human rights lawyer and Executive Officer of the Jewish Council of Australia

“The rally featured organisations and speakers with a history of anti-trans, anti-LGBTQIA+, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiments. This fusion of right wing Jewish and Christian fundamentalism under the misleading banner of fighting ‘antisemitism’ is very concerning.

At a time when the International Court of Justice has found a plausible case that Israel is committing genocide, the weaponisation of false antisemitism accusations and Holocaust memory - by saying ‘Never Again is Now’ - to be directly lobbying for Israel is particularly egregious.

We are concerned about the way in which some Jewish representative organisations and the Israel lobby are willing to partner with people with long histories of bigotry and racism against Muslims, Arabs and LGBTQIA+ people."

Quotes from Dr Max Kaiser, Historian and Executive Officer of the Jewish Council of Australia

"We need to fight antisemitism as part of the fight against all forms of racism and bigotry. It does not assist the fight against racism to treat antisemitism as different from other forms of racism and to conflate antisemitism with support for Palestinian human rights.

The Israel lobby continues to conflate Jews and Israel, including by engaging in lobbying for Israel on behalf of the whole Jewish community. These groups do not represent the opinions of all Jews, many of whom deplore Israel’s human rights abuses."

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