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Rudd must shun anti-semitism

As I entered the grounds of the University of Sydney during Orientation Week, plastered across virtually every pole leading up to the university's entrance was a poster signed off by the far-left group Socialist Alternative.

Headlined "War: Why capitalism is to blame", the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine were presented as exhibits A, B and C. In the poster's foreground, a ubiquitous Uncle Sam figure loomed, his all-powerful hand resting on, you guessed it, his menacing pet bulldog, Israel.

The message was clear. Israel, the US's proxy in the Middle East, is to blame for all the problems of the Middle East, if not the woes of the world. Get rid of Israel and we'll all live happily ever after, presumably on a strict diet of lentils and tofu. The more serious and indeed frightening symbolism at play was the clearly racist, anti-Semitic linkage of Israel, and by association Jews, with the machinations of "evil" capitalism.

None of this of course is new. The far Left and, more often, the thugs of the far Right have long peddled anti-Semitic conspiracy theories in which an all-powerful Zionist cabal controls the world's financial levers, a "fact" hidden, of course, by its control of Western media outlets and compliant governments.

Thankfully the posters had been removed by the next day. But how many students casually walking past would have come away with this image in their heads: Jewish capitalists and Israel "evil"; capitalist-oppressed Arabs "good". The month of March is of course hunting season for the far Left.

As impressionable, well-meaning first-year students begin their university studies, they are actively preyed upon by the socialist jihadists of the far Left.

Most of the young Socialist Alternative recruits will disappear within a matter of months. Hopefully their departure will be prompted as much by a rejection of the group's imbecilic economic theories as these abhorrent, irresponsible attacks on Israel and the Jewish people.

With a little more time for study, perhaps the ex-socialistas may care to spend an hour or two in the university's impressive library. There they might care to read up on the complex history of Zionism. Far from some capitalist conspiracy, Zionism emerged in the 19th-century as, prima facie, a reaction to a rising and virulent European anti-Semitism. And the Russian-Jewish peasants who were targeted by the murderous pogroms of the 1890s could hardly be designated as capitalists.

As the 20th century progressed, the most vocal, and arguably most important, proponents of a homeland for the Jewish people, were - shock! horror! - socialist-labour Zionists.

Sadly, however, the damage is likely to already have been done. What makes the publication of such dangerous, hate-filled nonsense so frightening is the economic tsunami engulfing the world. One doesn't need to hold a PhD in history to know that the last time the world faced an economic catastrophe of this magnitude, during the Depression of the 1930s, the enormous social and economic dislocation resulting from turbo-charged inflation and high unemployment led directly to World War II and the extermination of six million European Jews in the Holocaust.

Perhaps I am giving the largely irrelevant hatemongers of the extreme Left far too much credit. Nevertheless, as has been well-documented, anti-Semitism is on the rise worldwide.

Internationally, its most prominent booster is the President of the Islamic theocracy Iran. Holocaust-denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is evidently hell-bent on modernising the conspiratorial tracts of the early 20th-century hoax, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

In addition to calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map", last year he claimed: "The Zionists are crooks. A small handful of Zionists, with a very intricate organisation, have taken over the power centres of the world."

Aside from the local maddies on the Australian far Left, anti-Semitic propaganda has even seeped its way into some parts of the mainstream media. In January, Melbourne's The Age newspaper seriously damaged its reputation with the publication of "Asian business expert" Michael Backman's "it's all the Jews' fault" rant.

Combating anti-Semitism is a difficult and, sadly, perhaps an eternally vigilant task. Governments can pass all the legislation they like, launch countless educative programs, but somewhere out there will lurk the anti-Semite convinced that Jews run the world and that Adolf Hitler ought to have finished them off. Yet individuals ought to take some personal responsibility.

I can think of one individual who has taken a stand, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. According to a story from the now defunct Bulletin: "In the mid-1990s, Jeremy Jones, who compiles an annual report on anti-Semitism in Australia, received a call from a woman in Brisbane about a giant swastika. "He told her to go back, photograph it and remove it. "When she returned, there was someone whitewashing over it," Jones recalls. "He introduced himself; it was Kevin Rudd."

As admirable as the young Rudd's actions were, as Prime Minister he can take far more important steps to tackle anti-Semitism. And there is one practical measure the Australian Government might immediately take. Rudd should follow the lead of the Obama administration, Canada and Italy and declare his Government's intention to boycott the UN-sponsored anti-Israel hate-fest dubbed Durban II, planned for April 27.

No good can be achieved there. Apart from the small matter of a trio of dictatorships, Libya, Iran and Cuba, leading negotiations towards a statement of principle, the conference is likely to repeat the same themes that dominated final declaration of Durban I in 2001: Israel, the allegedly apartheid state, must be singled out for its racism.

Already the draft of the event's final document contains, in the words of Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, "aggressive and anti-Semitic statements".

As Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel said recently, "The anti-Israeli resolutions to be expected at Durban II will harm the UN, not Israel." By boycotting Durban II, Rudd can ensure that Australia's reputation is not similarly tarnished.

With the Rudd Government expected to make a decision in the next week or so, in the meantime we can look forward to the next offering by the Socialist Alternative peaceniks.

My tip: "Global Warming: Why Israel is to blame."

Nick Dyrenfurth is a postdoctoral research fellow in work and organisational studies at the University of Sydney.

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