Jewish schools in Sydney’s eastern suburbs have increased security measures to protect their students from anti-Semitic attacks following an incident on a school bus in Randwick last week.
Jewish schools in the area now have armed guards operating at their gates and members of the NSW Police patrolling the vicinity.
Three young students aged between 5 and 12 from Moriah College, Mt Sinai and Emmanuel School were travelling on the 660 school bus through Randwick last Wednesday (August 6) when they were verbally attacked by a group of teenagers.
The teenagers were allegedly heavily intoxicated and said “kill the Jews” and “Heil Hitler”, as well as references to the Israeli invasion of Gaza such as “free Palestine”.
The teens allegedly threatened the children with violence.
Five teenagers were arrested at 3.30am the following morning but were released shortly afterwards as they were unable to be interviewed due to intoxication, NSW Police told City Hub.
A spokesperson for NSW Police said no further arrests have been made and an inquiry is ongoing.
Member for Heffron Ron Hoenig said the incident was fuelled by frustration over the current political situation in Palestine.
Heffron is the NSW seat representing all three schools involved in the incident.
“Australia is a very proud multicultural country and Sydney is very culturally diverse. I believe it was an incident that was fuelled by the discourse surrounding the conflict in the Middle East and the perpetrators saw an opportunity to jump on the bandwagon and hurl abuse at Jewish children,” Mr Heffron said.
Mr Hoenig also said he feels the attack may have been prompted by the federal government’s bid to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA).
“The Federal Government’s attempt to repeal Section 18C of the RDA would have sent the perpetrators of this atrocious act a message that what they said is acceptable. I would hope that since the repeal was unsuccessful, it is clear to Australians that discrimination will not be tolerated in our community,” he said.
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive officer Vic Alhadeff said the incident was not indicative of a broader problem.
“It was an isolated incident. We live in a multicultural society that is overwhelmingly law-abiding and peaceful,” he said.
Mr Alhadeff said the authorities need to increase their awareness of these kinds of attacks in the near future.
“The authorities [need to] ensure there are adequate security measures in place.”
Spokesperson for Jews Against the Occupation Vivienne Porzsolt said Jewish leaders are encouraging a connection between Judaism and the actions of the state of Israel.
“No racism, including anti-Semitism, is ever excusable. However, the Jewish community leadership promotes the identification of Jews with Israel and all its actions. They debase the charge of anti-Semitism by applying it to all criticism of Israel. It is not surprising then that some may hold Jews in general responsible for Israel’s actions,” she said.
Acting Head of Jewish Life at Emanuel School Dr Adam Carpenter said the school was not an appropriate place for political commentary on the Israel-Palestine conflict.
“Our intention is not to provide political commentary and we respect the rights of families to hold personal political beliefs,” he said.
“Supporting Israel and its people allows for divergent views and opinions.”