AUSTRALIA’S prime minister angered some Jewish leaders yesterday by suggesting that the Islamic State (IS) movement was worse than Nazis during the Second World War.
It is the third time this year that gaffe-prone right-wing prime minister Tony Abbott has riled Jewish Australians with Nazi analogies.
There’s a difference between terrorism and genocideRobert Goot
Mr Abbott used an interview with Sydney Radio 2GB yesterday to credit Nazis with a sense of shame for atrocities they committed.
“The Nazis did terrible evil, but they had a sufficient sense of shame to try to hide it,” he said. “These people boast about their evil, this is the extraordinary thing,” he added, referring to IS fighters.
“They act in the way that medieval barbarians acted, only they broadcast it to the world with an effrontery which is hard to credit,” he added.
However, Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Robert Goot said there was a “fundamental difference between organised acts of terrorism and a genocide systematically implemented by a state as essential policy”.
He said while there was no question that the mainly Sunni Islamist group, IS, is “profoundly evil,” Mr Abbott’s comments suggesting that it is in some respects worse than the Nazis were “injudicious and unfortunate”.
“Those responsible for state-sponsored genocide were high government officials who operated in secret not out of any sense of shame, but to avoid being held criminally responsible,” he added.
Mr Abbott later said he wasn’t in the business of ranking evil, but stood by his comments.
“I do make this point, that unlike previous evil-doers, whether we’re talking about Stalin, Hitler or whoever, that tried to cover up their evil, this wretched death cult boasts about it,” Mr Abbott told reporters.
During the original radio interview, Mr Abbott also rejected implications that the Australian government was trying to scare citizens about the terrorist group that has wreaked havoc across swathes of Iraq and Syria.
“It’s nonsense, turn on your televisions, look at what is happening. The latest atrocity apparently was four young men being strung up and burnt alive,” he said.
His cabinet is set to agree next week to a US request to extend air strikes against IS targets beyond Iraq into Syria when defence minister Kevin Andrews returns to Australia.
Mr Abbott apologised in March for comparing opposition Labour leader Bill Shorten to the German wartime propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. He had previously described Mr Shorten as “the Dr Goebbels of economic policy.”
In February, Mr Abbott apologised to the Canberra parliament for describing a 10 per cent reduction in defence industry posts under a former Labour government as a “holocaust of jobs”.