Jewish man, 76, assaulted in Brighton: not antisemitism

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A Victoria Police badge (Victoria Police)

The recent increase in antisemitic incidents prompted fears that the attack was a hate crime but Victoria Police say it is unlikely the vicious assault was motivated by antisemitism.

A 76-year-old Jewish doctor was violently assaulted early on New Year’s Day in the affluent bayside Melbourne suburb of Brighton. Retired general practitioner Michael Irlicht was attacked when he went to help a man he found lying on the street.

With the recent increase in antisemitic incidents in Australia and internationally, fears circulated through the Melbourne Jewish community that the assault was a hate crime. But Victoria Police and the Community Security Group were quick to reassure the community.

“CSG has been in direct contact with Victoria Police this morning who have advised CSG that the attack is not likely to have been racially motivated in any way,” CSG said in a statement on Monday.

Michael Irlicht’s son Robert said his father had risen early on Monday morning, and shortly after 6am was performing his weekly ritual of bringing in the rubbish bins for himself and his neighbours in the apartment complex he lives in on Bay Street, Brighton.

“There was a person lying on the footpath, and my Dad went to check on the guy’s welfare,” he said. “The guy stood up, started growling at him, then lunged at him and attacked him, threw him to the ground and belted the living daylights out of him.

“My Dad managed to somehow get up. His block of apartments has a common door. He managed to get inside, and the guy was chasing after him. Dad managed to get inside, and the guy then started punching the double glazed glass at the front. He broke it. He put his hand inside and tried to open the door.”

Victoria Police said Bayside police arrested a 29-year-old man, who has been released on summons.

Concerns about increasing antisemitism continue internationally. In New Zealand, half of the respondents to a survey conducted by the Holocaust Education Centre reported that children have experienced antisemitism at school since October 7. Children have been locked in a cupboard, assaulted with a broomstick and had the Star of David scrawled on their school shirt. Because of bad experiences with previous complaints, only 40 per cent of parents had reported incidents.


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