Adjust size of text


Follow us and continue the conversation

Your saved articles

You haven't saved any articles

What are you looking for?

Josh Burns responds to violent antisemitic attack

The Jewish MP has recorded a video message for The Jewish Independent, in the wake of a violent attack on his office.
Deborah Stone
Print this
Window with a poster of a man covered in red paint and the words 'Zionism is fascism'

Graffiti and red paint on the window of Josh Burns’ office in St Kilda (AAP Image/Joel Carrett).

Published: 20 June 2024

Last updated: 10 July 2024

At 3:20am on Wednesday, six vandals attacked the office of Jewish MP Josh Burns, lighting fires, smashing glass and splashing red paint inside and outside. The vandals made their antisemitic agenda clear, adding horns to a poster of Burns and spray painting "Zionism is Fascism" on his office window.

In the wake of the attack, Burns prepared this message for The Jewish Independent.

Police are investigating the attack, which closed the Macnamara electorate office in St Kilda. Three fire crews were called after fires were lit inside and outside the office.

Burns told a media conference yesterday that the attack had put local residents' lives and livelihoods at risk. "I'm nervous about someone getting hurt, or worse," he said.

He said the culprits were having no effect on the Middle East but were damaging Australia. "What happened outside my office caused distress to my staff, my team, my community. It didn't bring about peace in the Middle East. It just vandalised an office here in Australia and caused distress. No amount of aggression and violence here in Australia is going to change what's happening in the Middle East."

Victoria Police say since late 2023, 84% of religiously prejudice crimes were antisemitic and 93% of politically motivated crimes were anti-Israel. The data comes from Operation Park, which was established late last year to centralise data on prejudice-motivated crimes, in response to the surge in antisemitism.

Burns said the Jewish community had experienced a really hard time over the past seven to eight months.

"The Australia that I grew up in was an Australia of multiculturalism, where the Jewish community could express themselves, could proudly walk down the street, not thinking about where they were, but just participating in Australian life. Now you've got Jewish community members who think about how they present themselves in public. Do they wear a yarmulke? Do they wear items that are visibly showing that they're Jewish? Do they go to university? That's a really terrible thing for people, for Australians, to be experiencing," Burns said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese pleaded with activists to stop targeting the offices of members of parliament, saying the people responsible should be prosecuted.

"This is an escalation of the attacks that we've seen. We've been talking about this. We've got to dial this down," he said. "For some people, they feel very strongly about issues in the Middle East. But it's no reason to target MPs half a world away in Australia, and in particular the targeting of a Jewish MP is very distressing."

But the government is still stalling on the appointment of an antisemitism coordinator. The Jewish Independent has spearheaded a campaign for an antisemitism coordinator, as part of an action plan on antisemitism.

Albanese and his staff have also been unable to use his Marrackville office for weeks due to a blockade by pro-Palestinian protesters.

Jewish Community Council of Victoria President Philip Zajac said the Operation Park data showed Australian Jews were not living in safety. “Behind these statistics is anti-Jewish and anti-Israel vilification, intimidation and violence. We are pleased that police investigations continue, arrests have been made and charges laid, albeit very slowly.

"More needs to be done to ensure that Jewish Victorians are safe at home, at work, in all parts of the city, in public places, and in our community spaces and right now, we want to see swift action taken against these incidents,” Zajac said.


French minors charged with 'antisemitic gang rape' of 12-year-old Jewish girl near Paris (Haaretz)
One suspect reportedly told police he assaulted the girl out of revenge for not disclosing to him that she was Jewish. Leftist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon denounced the case as 'racist antisemitism,' while the far right's Marine Le Pen attacked the far left for using the Gaza war to 'stigmatize Jews'

Holocaust memorial stones in Germany vandalized with antisemitic messages (Times of Israel)
“Jews are criminals,” say the messages on the stones, which are ingrained in local sidewalks to mark the houses that once belonged to the local Jews.

Germany designates BDS movement as 'extremist' due to anti-Israel activity (Ynet)
Designation enables German authorities to monitor BDS activists and recruit informants within organization following after being flagged by domestic intelligence agency

About the author

Deborah Stone

Deborah Stone is Editor-in-Chief of TJI. She has more than 30 years experience as a journalist and editor, including as a reporter and feature writer on The Age and The Sunday Age, as Editor of the Australian Jewish News and as Editor of ArtsHub.


No comments on this article yet. Be the first to add your thoughts.

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

Enter site