Avi Yemini, a former IDF soldier, (Israeli Defense Force), who owns the popular gym, IDF Training, in Melbourne, Australia, received a phone call, on March 14, from an anonymous caller, who threatened to “shoot him in the f**kin’ head'”, and demanded that Yemini get out of Australia, calling him a “f*cking c*cksucking f*cking Jew”.
The phone call was actually answered by a receptionist at the gym’s off-site reception. The Caulfield Police Station, Melbourne, who are currently investigating the incident, declined to speak to the press.
According to the Daily Mail Australia, Yemini said that the operator who spoke to the abusive caller was “very good under the circumstances. It was pretty vile and full on.”
The caller, who, at first, was polite, asked the operator if Yemini was “the ex-IDF bloke”. The operator replied:
“Yeah, 100 per cent.”
“So he knows how to shoot Palestinians,” the caller replied.
Maintaining his calm, the operator remarked: “I’m not too sure to be honest with you.”
The caller responded by delivering an anti-Semitic rant: “He’s a f**kin’ c**ksucker Zionist. Why are you even working there, mate?”
The called went on to say “You tell Avi to get the f**k out of the country, the f**kin’ c**ksucking f**kin’ Jew”
Yemini, who is publicly pro-Israel, told the press that when it comes to the identity of the caller, he has no clue.
Yemini reported the abuse to the police, but he did he not reveal how he traced the call.
Yemeni, who runs his gym with his wife’s assistance, told the press that “we’ve had threats and antisemitic things said to us in the past, but this is [the] worst ever.”
He told Daily Mail Australia that his employees were “on high alert for any potential threats”. Yemini also said that he was being unusually cautious, not only about his own safety, but about the safety of his family: “We are taking it seriously as a real threat, and trying to shut it down before it escalates,” he said.
Being an experienced IDF veteran, has helped Yemini draw patrons to his gym, which has been in operation since 2009. He teaches both Krav Maga, an IDF martial art, along with fitness classes.
Yemini is known for being both a successful businessman, and an outspoken critic of Islamism. He told the Daily Mail Australia: “I am outspoken and criticize aspects of Islam…which is often met with threats, but it won’t stop me”.
Born in Australia to a Chabad family, Yemini is no stranger to bigotry. In a Times of Israel blog post that was posted last June, he wrote: “It was almost normal to hear racial abuse thrown at me when I walked down the street, usually by a passing car, often referencing Hitler, or in some cases, even copping an egg being thrown at me. It was accepted. It was part of being Jewish.”
And it was his devotion to his religious heritage that motivated Yemini to volunteer for the IDF. Australia, like many countries, allows their citizens to fight in foreign wars, as long as the country is an actual ally.
Although today Yemini is no longer a practicing Orthodox Jew, he is still Jewish: “I am a proud Jew.” However, Yemini now only wears a yarmulke in synagogue or when he is talking to the media: “I’m making a statement”.
And Yemini is dedicated to sharing his personal statement with other Australian Jews. He told The Times of Israel:”My pride in my heritage and my people does not stop there [identifying as Jewish]. I have made it my business to promote it.
According to The Times of Israel, Yemini not only opened his gym for financial reasons, but also because he wanted “to show Australian Jews that being a proud Jew, being a proud Zionist can work for you. It can and should be a part of your business plan. It was and is [a part of] ours.”
Understanding all too well the many challenges that come with being openly Jewish, Yemini says that he is willing to debate issues with everyone, including Muslims. However, Yemini says that attacking people over race and religion is “unacceptable”: “When you’re talking about shooting someone in the face, you’re crossing a line whether you meant it or not”.
Since Yemini’s case is an on-going investigation, the outcome is unknown. But it is important to acknowledge countries, like Australia, who actively investigate threats against Jews. Unfortunately, what Avi Yemini experienced has become an all too familiar story.
The global rise of anti-Semitism has turned too many Jews into victims, and, even more tragically, into murder victims. Therefore, it is imperative that Jewish leaders continue to press for a vigorous response from both the police and the courts, in order to successfully attack “the longest hatred”.