The media is uniformly portraying it as a racial issue — and there are definite racial overtones. The Australian gangs chant about “Lebs,” and the news reports say they are targeting “men of Middle Eastern appearance.”
The “men of Middle Eastern appearance,” for their part, started the whole thing with attacks on lifeguards. Here is some pertinent commentary from Paul Sheehan in the Sydney Morning Herald:
Out there in Sydney, there is a huge cumulative weight of resentment and contempt at the constant provocations by Lebanese gangs – I’m not even going to bother with the simpering euphemism about “men of Middle Eastern appearance” when everybody knows what it means. It was evident on the beach at Cronulla yesterday.
As it happens, on Saturday, the leader of the Bra Boys bought into the Cronulla debate. Surf star Koby Abberton, who is facing a prison sentence for hindering a police investigation of a murder involving two other Bra Boys, called The Daily Telegraph to offer a view on why his home beach, Maroubra, was one of the few in Sydney not to have been trawled by Lebanese-Australian goons.
“The reason why it’s not happening at Maroubra is because of the Bra Boys,” Abberton told the Telegraph. “Girls go to Cronulla, Bondi, everywhere else in Sydney and get harassed, but they come to Maroubra and nothing happens to them … [Because] if these fellas come out to Maroubra and start something they know it’s going to be on, so they stay away.”
What has happened on consecutive weekends has been displays of two unpalatable subcultures, the yobbo beach tribes, and the Lebanese gangsta tribes. The reactions to the Cronulla brawl will be predictable. The disgusting behaviour of the Aussie yobs, behaving even worse than the original provocateurs last week, will prompt a great deal of ululating about Australian’s undertow of racism. This will be countered by a demand for recognition that violent crime in Sydney is disproportionately dominated by Lebanese, Aborigines and Pacific Islanders and Australians have had a gutful of the pandering to these groups.
Both sides will be right. You only have to look at the events at Coogee RSL club in 2002 to know that Australian beach culture has its ugly underbelly. And it would be folly to airbrush away the reality that what started the Cronulla tensions was yet another provocation by the aggressive, repugnant Lebanese gangsta culture – itself an alien subculture within the Lebanese community – which has given Sydney dozens of shootings and murders, a spate of gang rapes, hundreds of sexual assaults, and thousands of deliberate racist provocations at Darling Harbour, the eastern and southern beaches and some of the big clubs in western Sydney, along with Canterbury Bulldogs rugby league matches.
At its worst, this culture had overtones of civil war, as the Kanaan gang sprayed the Lakemba police station with gunfire. One of those who took part in this attack was Saleh Jamal, now in jail in Lebanon on weapons charges. He has turned to Islamic fundamentalism and wanted to explode a terrorist bomb in Sydney before he fled the country.
The cops hate and fear the swarming packs of Lebanese who respond when some of their numbers are confronted, mobilising quickly via mobile phones and showing open contempt for Australian law. All this is the real world, as distinct from the world preferred by ideological academics who talk about “moral panic” and the oppression of Muslims. They will see only Australian racism as the problem.
Others will see only “Lebs”. Cronulla yesterday proved it is not possible to airbrush the yob culture out of the picture, but the problem is not the figment of fertile imaginations. This has been too real for too long.