Nazi salutes, memes and assaults: Jewish students say Australian state schools unsafe
The article below is careful not to mention it but this would almost certainly be the Muslim influence at work. "Mein Kampf" still sells well in Turkey and such places. The problem is exacerbated in Melbourbne because Melbourne has a substantial Jewish population. Unlike Europe, Antisemitism is not a part of traditional Australian culture
Every day for five weeks at school, a 13-year-old boy says he was greeted with abuse, including heil Hitlers and being called a “dirty Jew” – a reminder that members of his family were murdered by Nazis.
He’s one of three students at three separate Melbourne public schools who say they have experienced antisemitic bullying that was so extreme their parents are pulling them out. They encountered swastikas, Nazi salutes and even physical assaults and were called “Jewboy” or “dirty Jew” and sent memes involving Hitler.
Two of the students became withdrawn, refused to go to school and couldn’t get out of bed. Another said he no longer told people about his Jewish background.
Their families say the response from both the schools and Education Department did not go far enough to stamp out the behaviour, or treat the matters as seriously as they should have. One family decided to go to the police because they felt the school was not responding quickly enough.
Adi Rozen, the mother of 14-year-old Jewish student Jackie, who went to Brighton Secondary College and was in its Select Entry Accelerated Learning program, said the bullying was so bad her daughter sometimes would not get out of bed.
Jackie was in a STEM class with five girls and 15 boys and had planned to do the International Baccalaureate program earlier this year.
Rozen said Jackie had a swastika drawn on her desk, had a note thrown at her that said “Jewish Rat” and was sent memes showing Hitler as the shark in Jaws.
A copy of Anne Frank’s novel, The Diary of a Young Girl, which documents the life of a young Jewish girl in hiding under Nazi persecution, was held aloft in the school library by a girl asking when the Nazis were comings.
Rozen was also concerned that other students were passive bystanders and wanted the school to show a zero tolerance to antisemitism.
“ I wanted the kids to know it happened, not names, but something that happened to the point a child has felt compelled to leave the school and seriously and emotionally damaged.”
When contacted for a response, the three schools referred The Sunday Age to the Education Department, which was sent a list of questions about its responses, including what policies were in place to combat antisemitism and what support was in place for the targets of such bullying.
A Department of Education spokesperson said any antisemitic behaviour in schools was “distressing and disturbing and taken extremely seriously”.
“We work closely with the Victorian Jewish community to strengthen our zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism,” he said.
Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abromovich said he heard concerns “almost daily” about incidents of antisemitic harassment and abuse in Victorian schools.
“These cases are just the tip of the iceberg and are symptomatic of something very troubling that is taking place in Victoria,” he said.
“For too many Jewish students, attending a public school is nothing short of a nightmare, as lives have been ruined because schools have failed us all.”
In unrelated incidents, Brighton Secondary College and the Education Department are awaiting a Federal Court judgment on a case against the state in which five former students alleged the school did not protect them from antisemitic discrimination and bullying.
A former Brunswick Secondary College student, 13, who asked not to be identified to avoid further harassment, claims he was subject to a five-week “campaign” of antisemitic bullying.
The year 7 student said the bullying began just three weeks into the first term this year after a group discussion about cultural backgrounds during which he said he had Jewish heritage.
He said he was confronted with heil Hitlers, a student drawing swastikas on a desk and at one point was held down, hit and kicked while another student tried to draw a swastika on his leg. The boy, who can speak German, said a student used Google to translate “all Jews should be exterminated” and “go back to the camps” into that language.
Most of it happened in the classroom, he said, but he would also get “sly tackled” on the sports field.
“It was constant every day, he was drawing the same thing [swastikas] on the table ... saluting me [the heil Hitler] the entire time,” he said.
“They never said my normal name. My nickname was ‘dirty Jew’ or ‘Jew’ or ‘Jewboy’. ”
The student was worried that going to the teachers about the bullying would make him a stronger target, but after five weeks his parents found out.
The boy’s father John, who asked not to include his surname to avoid his son being bullied again, said the boy’s great-grandmother and great-grandfather were murdered by Nazis during World War II. John’s own father escaped the Holocaust in 1938. He still has his father’s star-shaped Jewish badge.
After contacting the school and not getting a response for 24 hours, John decided to go to the police.
“Then the dialogue with the school just started after we sort of had to approach the police. It wasn’t just verbal or punchy and so on. It was physical. And it was abusive.”
The school set up a safety plan, but John said it was too late.
John decided not to go through with police charges to spare his son the trauma of the process.
“I did actually say to them in 35 years of experiencing schools in three different countries, this is the worst case of antisemitism I’ve come across,” he said.
Another student, 12, who attends Rowville Secondary Sports Academy, said antisemitic attacks began on the third week of February this year.
The boy’s father, who asked not to be named to protect his son’s identity – said his son was called a “filthy Jew” and told “all of you were supposed to die standing in a line and raising your hands up” and saw students doing the heil Hitler.
“It’s almost every day, every day it would have been something else,” he said.
The boy’s father said one teacher was aware of it from the first week and told the students to stop, which he believes had no impact. He claims he called the school for weeks before he had a response and felt the consequences and educative responses were not strong enough.
“Look this is racism. This is the worst. It’s not bullying,” he said.
“One time is one time too many. I don’t want other students to have deal with this the way my son did.”
Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-chief executive officer Peter Wertheim said he did not think there were strong enough policies in Victorian state schools to support Jewish students. The number of antisemitic incidents reported across Australia in 2022 was the highest in a decade, with 478 incidents – a 6.9 per cent increase from 2021.
In June last year, Victoria became the first state to ban the public display of the Nazi symbol. Under proposed federal laws, people who display or trade Nazi hate symbols would also face up to 12 months in jail.
It is mandatory for Victorian government schools to teach students about the Holocaust as part of the level 9/10 history curriculum.