‘I’ll stop your bloodline’: Anti-Semitism reports grow across Sydney schools
Sydney Morning Herald
September 11, 2022
A Jewish student at a Sydney high school was told by another student that he would go back in time and become Hitler to “hunt down his family and stop the bloodline”.
This is just one of the allegations that has come to light since The Sun-Herald revealed last week that anti-Semitism was rising in eastern suburbs schools.
The mother of the boy, a student at Rose Bay Secondary College in the eastern suburbs, said she has since met with the principal about the matter.
Separately, a mother at a Sydney private school phoned the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies to report that her son witnessed a Jewish boy being stuffed into a locker and sprayed with deodorant to simulate a Nazi gas chamber, while other students laughed and filmed the incident. She did not name the school, but said it occurred earlier this year and she believed the school was aware of it.
The Herald last week revealed that exclusive boys’ private school Cranbrook was dealing with several instances of anti-Semitic bullying, including a video of a boy performing a Nazi salute in full uniform while at school.
Some families have approached The Herald directly and disclosed the identities of the schools in question, believing this is the only way to achieve cultural change. Others have been shared by the Board of Deputies, which represents the Jewish community, with the names of schools redacted.
Two selective schools, James Ruse Agricultural High and North Sydney Boys High, are also investigating whether their students were involved in an online private chat room run by senior-school boys at Knox Grammar where students shared misogynist, racist and violent content.
Cranbrook headmaster Nicholas Sampson emailed parents on Friday to respond to media coverage about the Nazi salute and the school’s response, to claim the articles contained “several material inaccuracies, are misleading and were written without considering the welfare of the students concerned”. The Herald stands by its reporting.
A former Cranbrook parent told this masthead on Friday she was aware of anti-Semitic bullying at the school, including the regular appearance of Nazi symbols, dating back as far as 2017.
Sampson said anti-Semitic behaviour was “abhorrent” and the school was taking active steps to address it. This includes school assemblies and an excursion to the Sydney Jewish Museum for year 9 students.
The Herald can now reveal Rose Bay Secondary College was the unnamed public school in last week’s story, where bullies were using messaging app Discord to send messages such as “dumb ass Jew n—-r” and “I hope your family gets gassed”.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said when Rose Bay Secondary College was made aware of anti-Semitic incidents at the school, it took immediate steps to stop it and provided counselling for students impacted by the behaviour.
At a recent assembly, students heard from a teacher whose parents were Holocaust survivors and from a student who won a public speaking competition with a story about his grandfather who acted to save others during the Holocaust.
The Department of Education has a number of programs for anti-racism education and cultural inclusion, while students at all NSW schools learn about the Nazi Holocaust through both mandatory and elective history.
The Board of Deputies has launched an online reporting portal to make it easier to report anti-Semitic bullying and choose whether to provide details or be anonymous.
While Sydney’s eastern suburbs has the highest Jewish population in NSW, Board of Deputies chief executive Darren Bark said reports had flooded in from all over the state. In one case, at an independent school in the northern rivers, a year 7 boy pretended to shoot his peers with his fingers in the shape of a gun and said, “shoot the Jew”.
Bark said the schools themselves should have similar online tools to collect reports of any anti-social behaviour or harassment, not just anti-Semitism.
“No matter what the school, public or private, it should be easier to stand up, say something and report the bullying than it is to commit the act,” Bark said. “This is not currently the case.”
Bark said families were reluctant to report behaviour for fear of reprisals from bullies or being labelled as troublemakers by school leadership.
The Department of Education has an online feedback form at the bottom of department and school web pages, with the option of remaining anonymous.
A recent academic study found widespread religious bullying affecting Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Jewish students in Australian schools.
Lawyer Mariam Veiszadeh said reports through the Islamophobia Register regularly included incidents in schools. For all age groups, Veiszadeh said the perpetrators were mainly male, while the targets were mainly Muslim girls and women, who were often more visible because of their dress.
She said anonymous reporting options were important, but people running a register need to be aware of the risk of fake reports.
LGBTQI advocacy groups say homophobic and transphobic bullying also remains a serious problem in schools and is not helped by the fact private schools are exempt from anti-discrimination laws.