Antisemitism ‘toxic’
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THINK TANK REPORT

Antisemitism ‘toxic’

Senior research fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies, Peter Kurti, says antisemitism is not just a problem for the Jewish community.

Antisemitic graffiti in the Melbourne suburb of Chadstone.
Antisemitic graffiti in the Melbourne suburb of Chadstone.

EVERY member of society should be concerned about addressing antisemitism and taking a stand against it, a high-profile public policy analyst has warned. Peter Kurti, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies, earlier this month released the paper Toxic Mutation of an Ancient Hatred: Left-Wing Antisemitism.

Speaking to The AJN, the ordained Anglican minister said bringing left-wing antisemitism out into the open and showing it “is not just the preserve of the extreme white right” is important in countering it.

Peter Kurti.

“Clearly the Jewish community feels the impact of antisemitism in a very particular way, but antisemitism is a very corrosive and toxic practice that I think eats its way into the heart of any open, secular, democratic society,” Kurti said.

“Thinking about the kind of old-fashioned racism … there were never the sorts of allegations that go along with accusations fuelled by antisemitism, such as the undue influence of Jews in the media, in politics, in business,” he added.

“There is the added component in left-wing antisemitism that the State of Israel itself is an illegitimate entity, that’s it’s a manifestation not just of racism but colonialism and materialism.

“So I think antisemitism goes far beyond mere prejudice.”

Kurti said it had festered due to “a veil of reasonableness that left-wing antisemitism is able to wrap itself in”.

“It’s become particularly prominent because of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party in Britain, it’s become prominent because of certain Democratic members of [the US] Congress … I think it’s something that goes deep into the heart of the Australian Greens,” he said. “But it’s always cloaked in this sort of reasonable argument that it’s pro-Palestinian, it’s speaking out against tyranny, it’s opposing racism, it’s opposing apartheid – all noble causes.

“Once left-wing antisemitism starts to dress itself in that sort of language it becomes apparently respectable and I think it’s much more corrosive because of it.”

He clarified that criticising the Israeli government is “completely legitimate” and “part of a healthy democracy”.

“But trying to pass off a hatred of what Israel stands for and with it a hatred of what Jewish people are said to stand for … as part of a campaign to oppose racism or to oppose apartheid or to oppose colonialism, is dangerous and mischievous.”

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