Alhadeff: ‘People need to contact us when these incidents happen, otherwise these issues are not only left unresolved, but the message is that it is acceptable’.

By Rebecca Davis
Australian Jewish News
October 24, 2019

INCIDENTS of antisemitism in NSW educational institutions have “escalated alarmingly in the last 12 months” according to the CEO of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD).

Vic Alhadeff spoke to The AJN this week, following multiple reports of antisemitic bullying in Victorian schools, which included a 12-year-old Jewish boy being forced to kiss the feet of a Muslim child.

He cited a recent example that involved a priest telling students from a Sydney girls school that “Jews are a jealous people” when they visited his church. 

Contacted by Alhadeff, the priest contended he was referring to Jews at the time of Jesus and refused to admit there was an issue. 

Dissatisfied, Alhadeff then went to the principal who also refused to accept it was a problem. 

But it is not all bleak, according to Alhadeff, who said in most cases, school authorities are appalled by such incidents.

In another case, three year 11 students at a leading private girls school posed in a photo making a swastika shape with their arms. The photo was accompanied by the messages “Gas the Jews” and “Burn the Jews”. Mortified, the deputy principal called Alhadeff, who met with him, the three girls and the school councillor. Alhadeff showed them photos which depicted the Holocaust, and Jewish children engaging in ordinary life, asking, “Is this who you are saying we should be gassing and burning?” Two of the three girls succumbed to tears. The students were suspended for a number of days before being required to do 30 hours of community service, 15 of which were in the Jewish community. 

Alhadeff was also involved in a case of a student who was the victim of antisemitic bullying for two years at TAFE. His work in the matter resulted in the adoption of a 10-point protocol on racist bullying and discrimination by TAFE NSW. 

“People need to contact us when these incidents happen, otherwise these issues are not only left unresolved, but the message to everyone else in witnessing and hearing it, is that it is acceptable,” said Alhadeff.

In Melbourne, meanwhile, a 16-year-old boy has been charged in relation to stalking offences after allegedly verbally abusing the mother of the 12-year-old student who was recently revealed as the victim of antisemitic bullying.

“I was subjected to threats of home invasion, being bashed, my son being bashed and being silenced for good,” the mother said.

The AJN understands that the boy charged was not involved in the incident which saw the 12-year-old forced to kiss the feet of the Muslim child.