Graffiti on the road in Donvale (Victoria, Australia) this morning called for Victorian Premier Dan Andrews to be “stopped”. The brief message, presumably opposing the extension of the current lockdown to tackle COVID-19, included antisemitic themes.

The Star of David, a Jewish symbol, in the middle of “Dan” suggests that Dan Andrews (who is not Jewish) is under Jewish control. This is part of a conspiracy theory about Jewish control of governments which goes back to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an antisemitic forgery created in Tsarist Russia in 1903 which falsely presents itself as a record of secret meeting of a Jewish cabal. The Protocols are still widely spread both as a paper book and through social media. We recently wrote about multiple pages on Facebook promoting it.

The “s” in Andrews has been replaced by a Nazi swastika. This could be either a general effort to promote Nazism or an effort to call Dan Andrew a Nazi in light of the government control that have been introduced. The inappropriate analogies to Nazism undermine understanding about the Holocaust, where Nazi Germany carried out genocide through industrial mass murder of 6 million Jews. Roma and Sinti, homosexuals, political prisoners and others were also arrested and in many cases killed by the Nazis.

OHPI’s CEO, Dr Andre Oboler, commented: “This graffiti shows both the attacks on politicians which are becoming increasingly common and the spread and normalisation of antisemitism from the far-right. Social media is taking both problems viral. The Online Hate Prevention Institute has been tackling these problems since 2012, but a lack of funding and sharp rise in online hate is leaving the community at risk. Unless we stop it, this rise in hate online which is spilling over to society at large, will be a lasting effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.”