Vic Alhadeff: ‘It is of great and growing concern that a significant number of the antisemitic incidents which are coming to our attention are in the education sector’.
By Sophie Deutsch
Australian Jewish News
July 9, 2020
A STUDENT drawing a picture of Nazi doctor Josef Mengele and talking about “dissecting Jews” is one of many reported antisemitic incidents said to have pushed a Jewish student to decide she will leave her school in NSW’s Central West.
The 15-year-old private school student whose brother witnessed the drawing of Mengele has been in ongoing discussions with NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD) CEO Vic Alhadeff, informing him a few days ago that she plans to leave the school largely due to consistent antisemitic abuse.
She reported feeling “threatened” because of her Jewish identity, and said her brother saw swastikas and/or Nazi salutes on an almost daily basis.
“One of my history teachers also compared Palestinian terrorism to Jewish resistance during the Holocaust,” the student said.
“I try as hard as possible to not make myself a target. I don’t ‘flaunt’ my Jewishness. I avoid wearing my Star of David. In fact, I hardly discuss it unless it’s my close friends but somehow it persists.”
Alhadeff said JBOD has been in “intensive discussions with the school leadership” to address what appears to be an “endemic problem”.
“The Jewish student has identified approximately 10 students whom she claims have been involved in perpetrating these and other incidents … There is an urgent need to address the culture in this school, which permits such conduct to occur and over a lengthy period.
“The school authorities have been open to discussing with the Board of Deputies some constructive ways of dealing with this issue given the length of time and number of incidents taking place.”
At another school in the Central West, a year 10 student is said to have persistently asked teachers if they were Jewish.
If they said yes, the public school student “said he was going to kill them because he is a Nazi”, relayed Alhadeff. The student was suspended for six days.
As with the private school incident, Alhadeff has been communicating with members of staff to “discuss constructive ways forward”.
“It is of great and growing concern that a significant number of the antisemitic incidents which are coming to our attention are in the education sector. There has been a spike and it’s a matter of profound concern.”
Attempting to address the issue of antisemitic bullying in Victoria, the Department of Education has launched a full investigation following allegations of “horrific” antisemitic bullying at Brighton Secondary College.
The incidents, experienced by two Jewish brothers, are said to have included physical harassment when the older brother’s kippah was forcibly removed from his head and desecrated, verbal abuse, cyberbullying, and teachers delegitimising the children’s Israeli identity by instead labelling the boys as “Palestinian”.
The boys and their mother claim they made countless reports to teachers, coordinators and the principal, but say no serious action has ever been taken.