Man attacked in Brisbane on way to synagogue

A 48-year old Jewish man has been punched and abused in a Brisbane city street, during broad daylight, while on the way to the synagogue with his 11-year old son on Saturday 28 August.

The unknown attacker started shouting “Heil Hitler” and giving Nazi salutes after seeing the Jewish communal member wearing a kippah (a skullcap traditionally worn by Jews).

The communal member, who reported the incident to the Queensland Police, said he was shocked to see the man’s hate-fueled rage.

“At first, I didn’t realise what he was shouting, but when I looked into his eyes they were filled with hate towards me,” he said.

“I could feel his hatred directed at me right down into my bones. He punched me in the face and then just walked away.”

This attack comes as reports of hatred against Jews in Queensland is increasing and a Parliamentary Inquiry is reviewing hate crime and vilification laws.

The Vice President of the Queensland Jewish Board of Deputies (QJBD), the roof body of Queensland Jewry, Jason Steinberg said the attack was sickening and evidence the laws needed to be strengthened.

“For this brave father and his son to be subjected to abuse like this on the streets of Brisbane is shocking and deplorable,” Mr Steinberg said.

“When Jews in Queensland are being targeted, abused and punched then something must be done as a matter of urgency. The existing laws are clearly not strong enough to deter racist behaviour – the likes of which we are hearing about on a weekly basis in Queensland.

“Our community, along with all other minority groups, deserve to live in Queensland without fear, and to be safe from harassment and incitement.” 

In July 2021, the QJBD published research showing that 6 in 10 members of the state’s Jewish community had experienced antisemitism and while the Queensland Police were very responsive, the current laws did not deter racists. The research also showed that:

  • of those Jews in Queensland who experienced antisemitism, half were either abused, harassed, intimidated or bullied simply because they are Jewish
  • 15% of Queensland Jews also reported hate-fueled incidents that related to Israel and/or Zionism. 
  • 91.5 per cent remained silent rather than reporting the incident or attacker.