Sunday, December 10, 2000

Strike one for the Aussies!

From the Sydney Morning Herald
Saturday, December 9, 2000

Partisan's punch ends anti-semite campaign
By Philip Cornford

An 86-year-old former partisan fighter who lost his entire family in Treblinka threw one punch, putting to heel an anti-Jewish campaigner who has alarmed the Eastern Suburbs with his hate literature.

"I watched him putting his material in letter boxes," the old soldier said. "I went up beside him and hooked him a beauty. He dropped his material and ran for his life, his nose bleeding - the coward!"

Police are seeking to interview a man whose name appears on the literature, which also carried the name of an organisation.

The old soldier's retaliation came after six weeks of tension in the Jewish community following fire attacks on two synagogues.

The B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission said yesterday it was important not to blame Arab or Islamic communities, but the incidents highlighted the need for Jewish-Arab dialogue.

Police were checking an explosive device left 37 years ago beneath the floor of the Machzika Hatorah synagogue in Bondi and found on Thursday by workmen repairing fire damage.

It contained an ancient battery and a detonator and was wrapped in a newspaper dated August 27, 1963, bringing fresh apprehension to older Jews and Holocaust survivors.

The old partisan is one of them, escaping to the Carpathian Mountains in 1942 when the Nazis rounded up Jews in Slovakia and sent them to Treblinka. He fought until 1945.

Among the Treblinka victims were his parents, his two brothers, his entire extended family.

"I lost everyone," he said, after asking not to be named because of fears he might be arrested for assault.

The man he attacked on Wednesday was wearing an Australian slouch hat.

"I'm a member of the RSL, an old soldier. My brother-in-law fought with the Australians at Tobruk. What he was doing shamed that great hat.

"I did not lose my temper. I learned in war to keep control. But as soon as I'd clobbered him, when he started running, I started shouting insults after him. 'You f--- ing coward, you piece of ----.'

"I'm not proud of it. No-one should hit anyone without warning. But no-one should put out filth like that. Someone had to do something, and I did it."

He came to Australia in 1949. "I've got grandchildren, I've put roots down like a gum tree. Don't call me a Jew. The Nazis called me a Jew, they made it a stigma, they killed my family.

"What's a Jew? I'm an atheist. But if he said that about the Pope, I would have hit him just as hard. It's about decency. After 51 years, I'm Australian. What else should I be ... could I be?''


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