A leading academic says the Nazi symbols and references commonly used in Melbourne’s ongoing anti-vax rallies are being used to ‘demonise and delegitimise’ Dan Andrews.
The Victorian capital has been the site of protests for months, and have repeatedly included banners and placards using the Nazi swastika, references to Adolf Hitler and drawing parallels between those trying to withstand vaccine mandates with the suffering of Jews and others during the Holocaust.
Dr Dvir Ambramovich, the chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission, fears Australia risks an ‘impending race war’ and said neo-Nazis are using the protests to spread their ideology and had the Victorian premier squarely in their crosshairs.
‘They’re portratying Andrews to villify, demonise and delegitimise him. They claim he’s a dictator and the modern version of Hitler,’ Dr Ambramovich told Daily Mail Australia.
A leading academic says the Nazi symbols and insignia present in Melbourne’s ongoing anti-vax rallies are being used to ‘demonise and delegitimise’ Dan Andrews
The Victorian capital has been plagued by protests for months, which recently have featured banners and placards promoting Swastikas and referencing Adolf Hitler
Experts believe white supremacists have hijacked the anti-vaccine protests around Australia to normalise and spread their hate
The use of Nazi images and references at Melbourne rallies was not an endorsement of that ideology or evidence that the protesters held those views, but instead an accusation that their opponents do.
However Dr Abramovich was worried that the very fascist tendencies the protesters impute to their opponents are actually held by some who attended the rallies.
‘They paint Andrews as a monster. We have clear evidence these neo-Nazis are infiltrating these rallies and trying to assert themselves in mainstream agendas,’ he said.
The Anti-Defamation Commission chairman said the references are being deployed at the rallies because they’re ‘sensational headline generators’ that capture people’s attention.
‘They’re an effective way to beat down anyone that disagrees with you,’ Dr Abramovich told Daily Mail Australia.
Mr Andrews said in January ‘antisemitism was on the rise’ in Australia and that ‘there is no place for that bigotry and hate’ in Victoria.
‘I would make the point as well, that many would argue, and the international evidence is very clear, and indeed the local evidence, that antisemitism is on the rise,’ he said.
‘And it’s an evil thing, it’s a wicked thing. I’ll just take this opportunity to send a message to the Jewish community across Victoria. You have and you continue to make a profound contribution to our state.’
An anti-vaxxer mocks police pretending to be Adolf Hitler as he walks in front of a line of officers during the Worldwide Rally for Freedom in Melbourne on Saturday
‘They paint Andrews as a monster. We have clear evidence these neo-Nazis are infiltrating these rallies and trying to asser themselves in mainstream agendas,’ Dr Abramovich said
Dr Dvir Ambramovich, the chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission, says Australia is facing an ‘impending race war’
Dr Abramovich said Australia has never been more ‘splintered’, with anti-Jewish sentiment rising through the pandemic as people looked for scapegoats.
‘They’re trying to find validation, they fantasise about building Auschwitz in Melbourne,’ he said.
‘There’s an understanding from the government that this is a threat. You’ve got white men, may be unemployed, and the message the neo-Nazis are conveying is an attractive one.
‘They see themselves as vigilante soldiers defending their race. It’s an impending race war.’
Last week anti-vaxxers started placing stickers around the city controversially comparing themselves to Jews in the Holocaust.
The stickers, which have been spotted around the Victorian capital in recent weeks, show three images – the Star of David, Adolf Hitler and a syringe.
‘What’s the difference between vaccine papers and a yellow star? 82 years. We are increasingly living under National Socialiam. Stop medical apartheid,’ the message reads.
The group posting the stickers appear to be relating themselves to the White Rose, a group of students who led a brave and quiet uprising against the Nazis.
The White Rose movement, which included students Sophie Scholl, Hans Scholl, Christopher Probst, Alexander Schmorell and Willi Graf, were founded upon a nonviolent mantra and led by a professor from the University of Munich.
Melbourne’s anti-vaxxers have started placing stickers around the city comparing themselves to Jews in the Holocaust as they continue to fight mandatory vaccinations
Protesters even carried three nooses as they marched on Parliament House in Melbourne earlier this month
Dr Abramovich said the more often the imagery is used, the more normalized it becomes, and that was a goal used by white supremacists to build support in Australian society.
‘They think a societal collapse is imminent and necessary. The pandemic threatened the public health system, ruined the economy and changed all of our lives, but it also spread another contagion; the scapegoat,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘We saw it with Asians then Americans, people want to point the finger. There’s never been a more opportune moment to seize hate.
‘You have decent hard working people, whether they’re tradies or accountants, they’re starting to fall prey to those conspiracy theories.’
He said the availability of the messaging, whether it be on Facebook, Telegram or 4Chan, combined with the amount of screen time people had during the pandemic, provided a chance to extremists to promote their views.
‘We’ve had fissures and schisms in Australian society before the pandemic. There are smaller parties, the electorate is splintered and fragmented. The last 18 months has deepened those divisons,’ Dr Abramovich said.
‘The pandemic was like throwing a dirty bomb on our cities. It’s made people more deranged and angry.
‘The extremists are trying to harness that; the government can’t be trusted, this is a Jewish conspiracy, this is because of minorities.
‘It’s taken the lid off the sewer and all this poison is bubbling and spilling onto the streets.’
‘I’ve never seen the level of anti-semitism, theres an explosion of it in this country. It’s frightening in its intensity,’ Dr Abramovich said
In September, Victoria became the first Australian state to ban Nazi symbols in a mandate that will come into play from 2022.
Dr Abramovich said this was a landmark day for the rights of its Jewish citizens but that it was only acknowleding the problem and not providing a solution.
‘The worst thing we can do is to not take them at their word and downplay the threat they pose,’ he said.
‘There’s this idea they’re riff raff, they’re not. They’re on the margins but they’re very taxing.
‘I’ve never seen the level of anti-semitism, theres an explosion of it in this country. It’s frightening in its intensity.
‘Jews are going to be afraid to identify themselves in the future, they feel they are under siege.’