Thursday, May 14, 2009

Australian anti-Semite charged over YouTube videos

Police in Perth, Australia have charged a man in relation to the posting of anti-Semitic videos on YouTube. Footage shot by 39-year-old Brendan O’Connell sent waves of anguish throughout the city’s 9,000 strong Jewish community.

O’Connell took his viewers on a trip across the Swan River to a demonstration in South Perth being held by the Friends of Palestine,  protesting outside an IGA supermarket selling Israeli Jaffa oranges. O’Connell told his “viewers” that he was hoping to find some Jews at the scene…and he did. He videoed himself harrassing two young Jewish men and creating an argumentative situation.

Keith Shilkin, President of the Jewish Community Council of Western Australia, commented to reporters: “News of the video on YouTube swept through the community causing great concern. Children at the Carmel Jewish day school have had counselling sessions…but we have had close liasons with the police who became quickly aware of the situation.”

The leader of the Friends of Palestine has distanced his group from O’Connell, breaking any association with the video-maker. Shilkin told J-Wire that whereas the Friends of Palestine had been very outspoken on their views of Israel and its politics, they had not entered into any anti-Jewish propaganda and had been of no trouble to the local community. He added: “The man has been a serial pest but the community was not overtly aware of him.”

O’Connell is only the second person to be charged under Western Australia’s anti-vilification laws. The charges relate to conduct intended to incite racial animosity or racist harrassment and carry a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment.

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