A rabbi filmed as he was subjected to hateful and “vile” road rage abuse in Melbourne’s south-east included being told he “should’ve died in Auschwitz”.
In the 20-second video, a middle-aged male passenger in a grey vehicle can be heard calling the rabbi a “f—ing selfish c— of a Jew” as they sit stationary at a red light.
“Want me to get out and show you what Hitler did, no worries dickhead,” the man can be heard yelling.
“You should’ve died in Auschwitz.”
In the background the female driver can be seen waving and smiling, with the verbal abuse seemingly sparked by the rabbi making a call on his mobile phone.
The rabbi, who asked for his name to be withheld due to fears of further abuse, said he was driving to a synagogue in Caulfield when he noticed another motorist yelling in his direction, about 10pm on Monday.
A Rabbi was driving to a synagogue in Caulfield when he noticed another motorist yelling in his direction, about 10pm Monday.
He admits he’d picked up his mobile phone to make a call while stopped at a red light on the Nepean Highway, but never imagined it would spark death threats and anti-Semitic abuse.
The rabbi said he moved to Australia five years ago for a peaceful life. He said the incident had left him questioning how something like that could happen in a modern Australia.
He said he would report the incident to police.
“I felt very upset because I came to Australia thinking it was a very open-minded place but to see this happen here in 2019 left me shocked,” he said.
“This is the first time I’ve been threatened just because I’m Jewish.
“It makes me upset because after so many years of suffering of the Jewish people we are finally in a new modern world and people still have hate for no reason.”
Dvir Abramovich, chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission, said members of Melbourne’s Jewish community were increasingly being verbally abused, with swastika graffiti and stickers appearing across Caulfield in recent months.
“In a week in which we commemorate the Holocaust, I am gravely concerned that the virus of anti-Semitism is spreading like wildfire in Melbourne and is becoming a fact of life. It may be an uncomfortable truth for some but over the last year the level of hatred and the number of reported incidents against Jews are on a scale I have not witnessed before in our nation,” he said.
“We know that violent words can turn deadly and such disturbing outbursts, which shock the conscience, not only traumatise the victim but shake the affected community and leave them scared and vulnerable.”
In November a similar racially motivated attack saw abuse hurled at a woman as she drove through Elsternwick and Ripponlea.
The male passenger reportedly threatened to run her off the road before spitting on the woman’s car.
Earlier this month, a Jewish aged-care home in Caulfield was defaced with the swastika.
“Australians of all faiths and nationalities should feel secure on our streets, without the fear of being singled out for abuse because of their appearance or religion,” Dr. Abramovich said.
“I call on the state and federal governments to come up with a concrete action plan, with effective educational and prevention strategies, so as to ensure that this stain our society, will never become normalised.”
Victoria Police had not yet received an official complaint but said inquiries were being made into the incident.
“We take these matters very seriously,” a spokeswoman said. “Crimes motivated by prejudice cause serious harm to victims, often leaving them, and their communities, feeling vulnerable, threatened and isolated.”
People who experience or witness crimes or incidents motivated by prejudice should report them to police at their local police station.
Anyone with information on the incident can contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.