Thundering Bolt strikes Bagel Belt

Andrew Bolt. Photo: Peter Haskin

HE is no stranger to divisiveness, and last week Andrew Bolt polarised members of both the wider and Jewish community.

Four News Corp tabloids, including the Herald Sun published an op-ed by the controversial columnist entitled in the Daily Telegraph as “The foreign invasion”.

The article argues that increased immigration is “changing our culture”.

“There is no ‘us’ any more, as a tidal wave of immigrants sweeps away what’s left of our national identity,” opened Bolt.

“Immigration is becoming colonisation, turning this country from a home into a hotel.”

Bolt then proceeded to cite examples of the “tribes that live apart from each other and often do not even speak the same language in the street”, including the Chinese of Box Hill, Clayton and the Sydney suburb of Campsie; the “Little Indian Cultural Precinct” of Dandenong – and the Jews of North Caulfield.

“In Melbourne’s North Caulfield, 41 per cent of residents are Jews, including hundreds who have lately fled South Africa,” said Bolt.

“Such colonising will increasingly be our future as we gain a critical mass of born-overseas migrants,” he wrote.

The article attracted complaints to the Australian Press Council, opposition by some members of the media, and the ire of Jewish communal leaders.

Jewish Community Council of Victoria president Jennifer Huppert was quoted slamming Bolt in The Guardian. “There is a rise in ultra-rightwing activity in Victoria and this type of activity can fuel anti-
Semitic, anti-Islamic and general racist debate and language in our community,” she said.

“Articles like this definitely don’t help cohesion in society.”

While Bolt may be quoting statistics of Jewish residents in North Caulfield, “it tells us nothing about social cohesion”, added Huppert.

“It doesn’t inform the debate in any meaningful way.”

Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich charged the piece with “stirring up panic and unfair claims of a ‘foreign invasion'”, adding that it “demonises people simply because they are different and refuse to abandon their religion, customs and culture.”

Bolt hit back with two subsequent articles. In a piece published in the Herald Sun on Sunday, he stated, “Not all of these colonies should worry us. The more Jews the better.

“In fact, I neither said nor believe that Jews do not integrate,” insisted Bolt, who has appeared as a guest speaker at several Jewish community functions over the years, and has been a vocal supporter of Israel.

REBECCA DAVIS