THE publication of a “satirical” image containing the words “Should we get the Jews back for what they did to our absolute boy? Yes or No?” on a sign in the Welcome Week edition of the University of Sydney’s (USYD) weekly student newspaper Honi Soit has been slammed as “disgraceful” by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD), and as “textbook antisemitism” by the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS).
AUJS NSW political affairs director Gabi Stricker-Phelps said the Jewish student representative body was left “shocked and horrified” by the published image, which also displayed jars labelled “yes” and “no”, with more coins placed in the “yes” jar.
Stricker-Phelps said when she contacted Honi Soit‘s editorial team in the first instance to seek clarification on whom “absolute boy” referred to, their reply was, “It’s Jesus, you f***ing fool.”
AUJS has written a letter of complaint to Honi Soit and has called on its editorial team “to make a fulsome apology for this antisemitic image and outline how it will ensure content of this nature is never published again”.
“This is an instance of a student newspaper openly laughing about taking retribution against Jews,” Stricker-Phelps said.
“As a student at USYD, I hope that there will be serious consequences for such irresponsible and reckless writing by the editors of our student newspaper.”
AUJS public affairs coordinator Daniel Elberg added, “The accusation that Jews killed Jesus is an age-old charge that has been used as a pretext for centuries of discrimination and violence.”
JBOD president Lesli Berger told The AJN, “The fact that this message is contained in a supposedly satirical publication does nothing to mitigate its potential harmful fall-out.
“Antisemitic incidents are at their highest levels since the Holocaust, both globally and locally, and the reckless and irresponsible accusation of deicide, exacerbated by an open threat of violence, can only create divisiveness and fear on campus.”
The Honi Soit editorial team told The AJN on Tuesday the image appeared on a page containing a “mock calendar of Welcome Week events” in a piece “satirising the [university’s] Catholic Society … who have a storied history of controversy on campus”, while claiming the “joke” was written by an editor of Jewish heritage, and “is clearly made at Catholics who propagate this myth, not Jews”.
“We reject the assertion that the image, when seen in its entirety [of the context of the page] is antisemitic.
“We absolutely agree that antisemitism is on the rise in Australia … [and] we consider ourselves as being part of the fight to stamp out this poison from our society.”