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“Do You Want Another Circumcision?” Disturbing Antisemitism In Australian Schools

This story somehow did not make the news, which is surprising, considering how damn disturbing it is (hat tip: George).

Jewish students in Australian public schools are exposed to anti-Semitic, racist bullying, according to the findings of a new study presented Monday at an international conference on anti-Semitism at Bar-Ilan University.

The manifestations of anti-Semitism in Australian public schools were discovered by Prof. Zehavit Gross, Director of the Sal Van Gelder Institute for Holocaust Research, while she was conducting an unrelated study on public schools in Sydney and Melbourne with her colleague, Prof. Suzanne Rutland, of the University of Sydney.

Professors Gross and Rutland set out to research Special Religious Education (SRE) and its effectiveness on Jewish students. “As a researcher, I was convinced that a half hour of study per week is ineffective and meaningless,” said Prof. Gross in addressing the conference with Prof. Rutland. Instead, Gross and Rutland found that students and parents consider SRE very successful, and they were eager to find out the secret to this success. “To our amazement, both primary and high school Jewish students in state schools spontaneously told us that they loved to attend SRE classes because they found them to be a ‘safe place’ in the face of the anti-Semitism they were experiencing on the playground.”

Illustrating the common expressions of classical antisemitism encountered on the playground in elementary schools, they quoted one student, who said, “If you are Jewish you are teased. They call you stingy. They throw five cents at you. Or they throw money on the ground and call out ‘who is the Jew?’ Or they will say: ‘That’s a Jew nose.’ They say things about payot [sidelocks]. Or they take a pair of scissors, pretend they are cutting something and say ‘do you want another circumcision?” At the high school level this can develop into an additional layer of anti-Zionism, which is at times reinforced by teachers in the classroom. Jewish students are perceived as Zionists and supporters of Israel, and the anti-Semitism takes on a political connotation. “They are persecuted because of Israel, because of the occupation and because of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians,” said Prof. Gross.

Professors Gross and Rutland believe that additional research needs to be conducted into the role the schoolyard has played in fostering anti-Semitism

According to the researchers, many Jewish students in government primary and high schools prefer to hide the fact that they are Jewish in order to avoid bullying. Their parents minimize the significance of the verbal attacks and prefer to downplay them so as not to arouse attention. Teachers and principals deny that there is a problem. So Jewish students wind up accepting verbal bullying, which they believe they have to adjust to as normal behavior because the undercurrent of anti-Semitism on the playground is endemic and longstanding.

Increasing levels of anti-Semitism in the general community have imposed a huge security burden on the Australian Jewish community. In 2015 the government allocated funds to 54 schools at risk of attack or violence stemming from racial or religious intolerance. Seventeen were Jewish schools, which require armed guards in both Sydney and Melbourne, even though Jews constitute only 0.4% of the population.

Remember, this is Australia, where Jews are relatively safe, and the anti-semitism has not hit the levels we see elsewhere in the world, like in Europe.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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