On the day of the first visit to Australia by an Israeli prime minister, Jewish groups have called on federal government MP George Christensen to explain why he appeared on an “anti-Semitic” alt-right podcast.
Last week Christensen became the first politician to appear with the white supremacist trolls of Australia’s “Dingo Twitter”, when he gave an in-depth interview to “The Convict Report” podcast.
The hosts of the podcast have previously claimed prime minister Malcolm Turnbull must be Jewish because he used to be a merchant banker (he’s actually Catholic), and called former treasurer Joe Hockey a “slimy Semite”.
“The Convict Report” is hosted by the alt-right “The Right Stuff” network.
Dr Dvir Abramovich, whose Anti-Defamation Commission tracks anti-Semitism online, told BuzzFeed News he was angered to hear Christensen speaking to the podcast network.
Abramovich said “The Right Stuff” network started one of the most prominent anti-Semitic memes on the internet, which involved racist trolls putting parentheses, or “echo” symbols, around the names of Jewish journalists.
“While we do not know what is in Christensen’s heart, for an elected official to be interviewed on a podcast that traffics in bigoted and demeaning stereotypes is deeply troubling,” he said.
“Regardless of the issue and how charged the atmosphere is, public figures have a great responsibility to show true leadership and to reject any form of divisive speech, racism and prejudice that debase civil discourse.”
A spokesperson for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry agreed.
“It is unfortunate that a federal government MP has given a measure of prominence and legitimacy to what appears to be a particularly unsavoury program by agreeing to be interviewed on it,” said spokesperson Alex Ryvchin.
Ryvchin said he would be surprised if Christensen knew about the podcast’s association with openly racist foreign programs.
“Nevertheless, all politicians should be more discerning of the media to which they grant interviews, and ensure that they, and the respectable office they hold as MPs, are not being used to further an agenda that they have no part of,” he said.
Last year in a speech to parliament Christensen accused the anti-LGBT bullying program Safe Schools of being akin to “child grooming” by a sexual predator.
He argued that because the Safe Schools website had hyperlinks that directed people to other websites that contained sexual health advice, teaching the program to children was akin to allowing them to be groomed by a sexual predator.
And yet, within a single click from George Christensen’s interview, people are taken to one of the most well known white supremacy portals on the internet.
Correction: "The Right Stuff" network's podcast is actually called "This Week in White Genocide”. A previous version of this article referred to it as "This Week in Genocide"
Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Mark Di Stefano at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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