NZ & Rise of Antisemitism

9th June 2021 – New Zealand not immune from rise in antisemitism

The representative body of New Zealand Jewry, the NZ Jewish Council (NZJC), has expressed concern about the high number of antisemitic incidents in New Zealand recorded last month.  Spokesperson for the NZJC, Juliet Moses, said:

“While we haven’t experienced the violent Jew-hatred seen recently in the United States and Europe, New Zealand has also had a significant rise in antisemitic incidents relating to the war between Hamas and Israel.

Last year, 2020, saw 33 antisemitic incidents recorded in New Zealand – the highest number since records began in 1990. Last month alone, we recorded 16 incidents.  They ranged from targeted, private antisemitic abuse of Jewish students online to a man giving the Nazi salute outside a synagogue.”

Moses said those 16 incidents don’t include public antisemitic social media posts from New Zealanders or on Kiwi forums, and the NZJC also noticed an increase of those.

“Not only did the quantity of social media hate increase, but so did the level of vitriol.  For example, there have been multiple expressions of support for terrorists as well as repetition of age-old tropes about Jews controlling politics and/or the media.

And it’s not just from anonymous troll accounts: Green Party MP, Ricardo Menéndez March, tweeted “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”.  This is a slogan that, even with the most generous interpretation, means the destruction of Israel.  It is used by the terror group, Hamas, and stated in their Charter, to mean the genocide of Jews.  We’ve also seen a Māori Party staff member tweet open support for Hamas.”

The NZJC is asking for government and civil society to stand up against racism and rising antisemitism.  The “Give nothing to racism” campaign of the Human Rights Commission applies to everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand.  All of us have a responsibility to speak up and “be an upstander, not a bystander”, as the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand puts it.

Also, we all have a responsibility to avoid extreme language when we talk about complex issues. NZJC asks everyone to calm down their rhetoric around the Arab-Israeli conflict. The consequences of violent language include attacks on groups of people, including Jews, as we’ve seen around the world.

            “If we don’t stand up to hatred, it will grow.”

Juliet Moses      Spokesperson – New Zealand Jewish Council