Burgertory, online incitement, and StopZionistHate

In the morning of Friday 10 November 2023, the Caulfield branch of the hamburger chain Burgertory burned down. Police have said the fire was suspicious, but that it was not a hate crime. The store is part of a chain owned by a Palestinian man who has been in the news recently after video spread of him leading a chant “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free”. It is also located very near the Jewish community centre in Melbourne and in the centre of the area where most of Melbourne’s Jewish community lives. Peak Muslim and Palestinian organisations expressed concern the fire might be a hate crime. On social media some Palestinians / pro-Palestinian activists posted accusations against the Jewish community, some amounting to incitement to violence. A pro-Palestinian rally was scheduled to take place near the store and in the heart of the Jewish community, at the time of the Jewish community’s Friday evening prayers to welcome the Sabbath. The result was the creation of fear in the Jewish community and the evacuation of the two synagogues in the middle of the pray services. A crowd of Jewish people began counter protesting against the Palestinian protest. The scenes were captured by the media.

For background on the concerns over the “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free” chant at the earlier protest and the statement from the burger store owner in response, and commentary highlighting concerns about it, please see this article at J-Wire, and for the more recent events today please see this ABC article.

This article’s focuses is on online content around the incidents, and in particular disinformation claiming it was a hate crime (which police have rejected) and that the Jewish community (or Zionists) are behind it. The content documented here has the potential to inflame tensions and lead hate crimes targeting the Jewish community. It is responsible for the tensions on the streets om Friday evening. Of particular concern is what looks like a new astroturf account on x / Twitter and website which are modelled on StopAntisemitism.org but claiming to a US not-for-profit focused on “Zionist Hate”. While trying to look like an established organisation, there is no organisation behind it and the accounts and website are just days old. Conversation about it on the far-right forum /pol/ suggest it may be a far right effort designed to both inflame tensions between Jews and Muslims and to collect email addresses form Muslim supporters. These could later be used for phishing and other cyber attacks.

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Official statements


A statement posted to Facebook by Victoria Police at 3:54 pm said there emergency services were call to fire at a business at around 4.30am this morning. They state the “fire is being treated as suspicious” and that the “exact cause of the fire is being investigated and at this stage the fire does not appear to be racially motivated.”

Inspector Scott Dwyer from Victoria Police is quoted by the ABC as saying on Friday afternoon that they were confident of an arrest. He added, “There is nothing to indicate this incident is related to any religious or political involvement and we’re treating it as a suspicious fire, I would warn people not to make assumptions or draw lines of inquiry that aren’t there between this incident and anything else that is occurring.” The Age has the same quote but added that he said they were “very confident” it was not an attack motivated by prejudice but that he wouldn’t go into the evidence they had gathered.

Muslim and Palestinian peak bodies

The peak Muslim organisation for the state of Victoria, the Islamic Council of Victoria, along with Palestinian advocacy groups, released a statement at 3:20 pm (i.e. shortly before the police statement) via the ICV Facebook page. The statement expresses “grave concern that this was an intentional act amounting to a hate crime against Mr. Tayeh as a Palestinian and Muslim.” The letter goes on to claim that “Criticism of Mr. Tayeh comes amidst a broad campaign of misinformation about Palestinians” and their supporters, and that “Zionist movements have attempted to frame them as violent radicals and antisemites.” The statement was still online at the time of writing.

Jewish community Council of Victoria

At 5:10pm the Jewish Community Council of Victoria released a short statement. It said that police are conducting and investigation and have said the fire does not appear to be racially motivated. It refers to an altercation during the day outside a takeaway shop. The JCCV President states, “Nothing justifies any form of violence against any individual or property in Victoria.” It notes that they deeply respect free speech and the work being done by police to protect the community.

Zionism Victoria

The peak Zionist organisation for the state issues a statement at 6:33pm noting the police statement that the fire “does not appear to be racially motivated”. Zionism Victoria noted that “malicious rumours have been circulating on social media claiming members of the Jewish community torched the premises in response to the owner’s vocal and public support of the Palestinian cause” and adding concern about some mainstream media headline adding to this. The President of Zionism Victoria said that they “vociferously condemns any and all acts of violence against persons or property” as well as “any attempt to fuel discord between different religious or ethnic groups”. He added that, “If the fire at Burgertory were the result of a hate crime, we would not hesitate to call for the perpetrator to be brought to justice.”

Australian Halal Food Guide

The Australian Halal Food Guide posted a video to Facebook taken from the Palestinian side of protests tonight which shows some Palestinian activists trying to break through a police line to get at the Jewish protesters. Other Palestinian activists drag one of their own members to the ground as the person tries to circle for another go at police. The Palestinian activists can be heard telling one of their number to “stay down” and “don’t make it worse” as they hold him to the ground. A Palestinian protester tells another “someone is hurt” then corrects themself, “oh no, they’ve arrested someone”. The video shows police holding someone down in the middle of the road. A media report days it was a Pro-Palestinian activist who ran through police into the pro-Israel crowd.

The Facebook post sharing the video describes it as “Clash between Pro Palestinians and Far Right Jewish at Caulfield(Melbourne). Clash happened after Burgertory Caulfield Branch owned by a Palestinian was burnt down.” The description is loaded, its clear reference to Jews (rather than saying “zionists” for example) is notable. Also notable is the attempt to label those counter protesting a Palestinian Protest held in the middle of the Jewish community as “far right”. This commentary is concerning, particularly coming from a page like this that (unlike the representative body, the ICV) should not be political.

Hash Tayeh

After the call for a protest over the fire had been circulating for some hours, the owner of the burger shop, Hash Tayeh, called for there not to be protests outside the site of his destroyed restaurant. His message came was sent around 6pm, an hour before the protest was due to start.

Social media

Viral tweet blames Jews for the fire

At 9:49 am a tweet from a Palestinian advocacy account run by a university student broke news of the fire claiming that because the owner “has been speaking out against Israel’s crimes”, “His shop in Caufield was targeted yesterday by what can be assumed to be a Zionist hate crime.” The tweet went on to claim “Zionist groups have been vilifying him relentlessly. They are to blame.” As of the time of writing, 10:58pm, the post has gone viral with 189.6k views and grew by 27.5k in just the last 8 minutes.

A reply names a Jewish location

One reply to this statement made at 4:01pm explicitly noted it was “right near” the Jewish community centre, referring to it as the “Beth Weismann Zionist Centre” rather than its correct name, the “Beth Weizmann Jewish Community Centre”, and near where it claims “pro-Israel rallies are held”. This sort of content, naming a Jewish location, in reply to content alleging Jewish responsibility, is painting a target on the Jewish community.

Examples of hate

A tweet assuming (1) it was Jews / Zionists responsible, and (2) this is what “they” are like as a group (classic racism)

A tweet complaining the ABC only reports on hate against Jews not Muslims. Another asserts that if the target had been Jewish it would be in the media for weeks and months, suggesting the media only cares about Jews. Again, police have said this wasn’t a hate crime (see above), and it did get significant media coverage across multiple outlets.

A tweet claiming the fire was “Punitive punishment for speaking out for palestine”.

Another accuses the Zionist Federation of Australia of being a “violent terrorist organisation” and “criminals”. A statement from Zionism Victoria (the state Zionist body) is above, not only did they have nothing to do with this, they strongly condemned the arson, noted police said it wasn’t a hate crime, but that added that if it was they “”vociferously condemns any and all acts of violence against persons or property” as well as “any attempt to fuel discord between different religious or ethnic groups”. He added that, “If the fire at Burgertory were the result of a hate crime, we “would not hesitate to call for the perpetrator to be brought to justice.” This sort of tweet making baseless accusations is deeply harmful to the community as a whole.

Similarly another user says “ZIONIST hate crimes are Islamophobic and the police need to defend Australia citizens freedom”, as well as “Govt and police need to arrest these terrorists and deport out of Australia”.

Another states “Yes, either they did it themselves directly, or they incited the hatred and this is an act of stochastic terrorism”. Again, the police have said it wasn’t a hate crime at all. As Associate Professor Shana MacDonald and Associate Professor Alysia Kolentsis explained in the Conversation this past July, “At its core, stochastic terrorism is public demonization of a group which incites random violence against that group. Crucial here are the words public, demonization and violence. They work together to silence people either by threat of violence or through violence itself.” This tweet about stochastic terrorism could arguably itself be regarded as stochastic terrorism, particularly in light of the other tweets above.

This tweet incites hate calling Zionists (which includes the vast majority of the Jewish community) “neo-Nazis” and “racist extremists”.

“Stop Zionist Hate”

At 3:04pm a user tagged the account “StopZoinistHate” in reply to the viral Tweet above. This message brough our attention to this @stopzionisthate account.

The account has already addressed this Australian incident posting at 1:23 pm claiming the fire was allegedly a “zionist terrorist attack”. In full: “A Palestinian-owned restaurant named Burgertory was irreparably burned in Australia yesterday, in what is alleged to be a zionist terrorist attack. Just before the arson attack, zionist hate groups targeted the owner online. There is still no suspect.”

The Twitter account is brand new, having been created in November 2023, and with its first tweets made on November 6th. It describes itself as the “Leading non-partisan American based organization fighting zionism and zionist hate.” It describes itself as a “Non-Governmental & Nonprofit Organization”. It has a gold tick meaning twitter verified it is the official account of an organisation, but all this really seems to vary is that the listed website and twitter account are owned by the same person. The account is growing RAPIDLY, in the last 2 hours it has grown from 18.9k to 20.6k.

The website has no about information, not event a copyright notice. The IRS has never heard of them. The domain name was registered on November 9th 2023. Ownership is protected by privacy shield. this looks like a classic astroturf.

The first tweet explain, “DM us any incidents of Zionist abuse, discrimination, violence, or hate speech from individuals, companies, or institutions. We strive to make the Internet, workplaces, and Universities a safe space for all people.” They follow this up saying “Any form of abuse, discrimination, or violence against non-Zionists, or those derogatorily referred to as “Goyim” by extremists, will not be tolerated. We are an American non-profit watchdog organization focused on combating Zionist Hate.”

The tweets are notable as Jews speaking English would say gentiles, not “goyim”, which is literally Hebrew for “peoples” as in other peoples (nationalities) besides the Jewish people. Today its usage is much more common among antisemitic groups like the far-right “Goyim Défense League” that distributes antisemitic materials across the Unites States. The conflation of non-Zionists with Goyim makes no sense at all, except for someone using Zionist itself simply as a code words for Jew. In short this looks like an astroturf account by neo-Nazis. This is doubly concerning as it tries to collect content to attack Jews, but also email addresses of pro-Palestinian activists, many of whom will be Muslim, another group the far-right targets.


The creation of Stop Zionist Hate was promoted today on 4chan’s /pol/, a far-right forum linked to multiple antisemitic terrorist attacks (see our report into the Halle terrorist attack for more on them). The posts states:

“Remember the Zionist group StopAntisemitism, which spends all day getting people fired for critizing Israel? Well, TWO CAN PLAY AT THAT GAME. There’s now Stop Zionist Hate, which calls out Zionist harassment, hate, and illegal behaviour. Lets see if any Zios get fired for attacking and assaulting people.”

Another user on /pol/ writes “Based. We are winning against the jews. Red pilling during all this years was worth it !”

Another replies to the above writing, “All of those infographics are going to pay off that people have made about kikes. Anons that have them should be flooding social media with them. Strike while the iron is hot.”

In reply to that another user writes, “Yes. We’ve been spreading them for years but people weren’t receptive to them. Now is the time to put them into the normiesphere. Their minds have entered a receptive state (they only receive information that supports ‘the cause’) so they will be able to actually digest the information and realize it really was the fucking jews all along.”

This content demonstrates the site being pushed into far-right / neo-Nazi circles. It may well have originated with them.

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