Racism takes root

Dr Felicity Newman was shocked to receive an anti-semitic slur in her mailbox. Photo by Steve Grant’

A PROMINENT Jewish academic, writer and foodie says she was shocked to be targeted by anti-semitic hate mail at her Hilton home last weekend.

Felicity Newman said what creeped her out about the letter, which claimed Jewish people were a “problem all over the world”, was that it’s almost certainly come from a neighbour.

It was prompted when the local council cut down a tree at the front of her house, which she said had been ailing for 

a number of years. The letter writer blamed her for the tree’s loss, saying it had given her a nice place to park her car.


Dr Newman, who said her prominent role in the anti-Roe 8 campaign should have cemented her tree-loving credentials, said because she lives on a quiet street with little through traffic, the letter was likely written by someone who lives there.

“I’m mostly sorry for my daughter, who was pretty shocked and thought it pretty shabby,” Dr Newman said.

“But on the other side, I have been inundated with expressions of support from the community; [councillor] Sam Wainwright and his partner Janet [Parker] even came over with a bottle of wine, which was a lovely gesture,” Dr Newman said.

Cr Wainwright, whose partner has Jewish heritage, said it was a disturbing incident and he has organised a letter he’s planning to circulate in the nearby community condemning the attack. He’s hoping to get mayor Brad Pettitt’s signature along with local councillors and wants it on council letterhead.

“It saddens us deeply that we need to point out the obvious: there is absolutely no place in our community for discrimination and abuse based on a racial, ethnic or religious background,” the letter reads.

“We love Hilton for its diversity and the tremendous community spirit we see expressed in so many ways. Let’s build on that and make it better.”

Jewish Community Counicl of WA public affairs director Steve Lieblich told the Herald while Australia was generally a tolerant country, it wasn’t immune to the recent resurgence in anti-semitism.

There have been conspiracy theories circulating linking the Jewish community to the Covid-19 pandemic, a claim he dismisses as ridiculous.

Mr Lieblich said the latest figures indicated a 30 per cent spike in reported anti-semitic incidents across the country in 2019 – from 88 to 114.


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