Bar-Ilan University study reveals manifestations of anti-Semitism in Australian public schools

January 18, 2017 Agencies
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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 two-day conference, focusing on the rising threat of anti-Semitism and the struggle to combat it, marked the 20th anniversary of the passing of Israel’s 6th President, Chaim Herzog. The gathering was organized by Bar-Ilan’s Aharon and Rachel Dahan Center for Culture, Society and Education in the Sephardic Heritage, the World Zionist Organization, and the University’s Sal Van Gelder Institute for Holocaust Research.

Dr Suzanne Rutland

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.

Prof. Zehavit 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.

Gross and Rutland recommended a number of steps to overcome this problem, including educating teachers to better understand cultural diversity, taking action when a problem is discovered, and educating principals and teachers on how to respond in a positive fashion to problems of racial discrimination.

Additional conference speakers discussed the phenomenon of denial or downplaying the level of anti-Semitism. In addressing the opening session of the conference, Dahan Center Director and former MK Dr. Shimon Ohayon said, “The fight against anti-Semitism must be fought across the board – from parliamentary legislation in Israel and around the world to vigorous public diplomacy programs that train our people to stand up to the virulent hatred being espoused across college campuses around the world.  Our greatest weakness lies in our inability to fight back against the massive hate machine.” Together with WZO Vice Chairman Yaakov Hagoel, Dahan led the Knesset lobby against anti-Semitism.

WZO Vice Chairman Hagoel said,”The World Zionist Organization will continue to stand firmly against acts of anti-Semitism which are increasing every year in both frequency and violence. Anti-Semitism has become routine in Diaspora Jewish communities such that Jewish identity is threatened, Jewish symbols are concealed, and fear of violent anti-Semitism is heightened.  In an era of global terror blended with deep anti-Semitism, at a time when the Internet is a free platform for spreading hatred, our commitment to combating this phenomenon alongside our brethren in the Diaspora is reinforced.”


10 Responses to “Bar-Ilan University study reveals manifestations of anti-Semitism in Australian public schools”
  1. Arthur Fridman says:

    I still don’t understand why Jews are so surprised about this study. We were, we are, and we will be a subject of anti-Semitism – always.

    Consider this historical anecdote. In 1929, famous Russian director Sergei Eisenstein met Albert Einstein in Europe, and Einstein asked him, “So how’s the situation with anti-Semitism in Stalin’s Russia?” Eisenstein told him, “we live in a socialist, internationalist country, everyone is equal, there is no racism”. To which Einstein replied, “I think you are not telling me the whole truth. Anti-Semitism is a shadow of Judaism – where there are Jews, there are Jew-haters”.

    So nothing is new under the sun…

  2. Micahael Burd says:

    Why is this so surprising as Muslim immigration explodes in Australia [ supported by most of our Jewish communal organizations under the guise of multiculturalism ] anti -semitism will continue to fester under the cover of Anti- Zionism , anti- Israel specially by our academia the obsessed leftist Palestinian groupies and to to appease our ever expanding Muslim community.

  3. dave street says:

    I am from US and I find this article disturbing and sad.

    I had believed Australia was becoming a more tolerant society.

    Apparently the ‘old’ Australia racism and the ‘new’ Progressivism is merging along with historical Christian tropes into a modern anti Semitism down under

    “Fight on”

  4. Leon Poddebsky says:

    Wow, Professor Gross, you’ve made a revolutionary discovery: the Jewish stereotype of deicide, long nose, sidelocks and lust for money originated after Israel’s liberation of Judea, Samaria and Gaza in 1967!
    That’s Nobel Prize material.
    Distinguished professors, did you delve into the cultural backgrounds of the pupils who were the worst offenders?
    Did you delve into their socio-economic backgrounds?
    Did you delve into their parents’ politico-ideological backgrounds?
    Did you delve into their religious backgrounds?
    Did you delve into what their teachers tell them about Jews and Israel?

    Is that all too difficult, distinguished professors?

  5. Arthur Fridman says:

    Jewish kids are bullied in schools – you call it the news? You don’t need an expensive scientific study to know that.

    Hands up who went to a non-Jewish public (or private, for this matter) school, and wasn’t bullied? Instead of whining and going to a teacher, kids should be taught to fight back, both verbally and physically. Parents only have themselves to blame if their kids are bullied because they are not prepared to respond appropriately

  6. Stan Goodenough says:

    This makes sad reading and it’s a good thing that anti-Semitism anywhere is noted and combatted. At the same time, Professir Gross’ comment stating that Jews are persecuted “because of the occupation and because of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians” is, well gross, to put it frankly. Failure to at least use the descriptive “alleged” before leveling such charges against Israel both reveals Gross’ own bias and in fact sounds as if it is almost explaining if not justifying that persecution. What a shame such self-hatred exists.

  7. Martin Richard says:

    Who is sponsoring this type of study?

  8. Eleonora Mostert says:

    Can we lynch Lynch???

  9. Eion Issac says:

    Well it’s true but Teenagers and youngsters can be incredibly bullying about Jews Greeks Italians Weak looking People but antisemitism is epidemic unless you are tough great in sport and have a good sense of humour .
    Jewish children also bully its innate .
    It’s mild compared to what it was in Eastern Europe or Nazi and Polish Universities after 1933 .

    It’s has to be dealt with no question .

  10. Leon Poddebsky says:

    “They throw money at you?”
    Well, they’re more generous than Mr Lynch of The University of Sydney: he held up a $5 note in front of a Jewish woman’s face, but he clung onto that note tenaciously.

    Another ramification of this study is that that university’s “Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution” can expect a huge influx of high school graduates eager to have their proclivities validated by distinguished Sydney University staff like Messrs Lynch and Riemer.

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