Oct 7 missing in anti-Israel letter from Victorian teachers

December 19, 2023 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Teachers and School Staff for Palestine Victoria has delivered an open letter with close to 700 signatories to the Victorian Department of Education.

Philip Zajac

The open letter was addressed to Ben Carroll MP (Victorian State Minister for Education), Jason Clare MP (Federal Minister for Education), and Lizzie Blandthorn MLC (Victorian State Minister for Children).

They wrote: “As teachers, school staff, and education affiliates, our duty of care, curriculum, codes of conduct and ethics, and our fundamental civic responsibility, require us to take a stand against Israel’s violation of the United Nations Convention and international law, that since October 7th 2023 has killed more than 18,000 Palestinians, caused serious bodily harm to more than 50,000 Palestinians, and deliberately inflicted the displacement of 1.9 million Palestinians. It is important to emphasise that each of these numbers represents a Palestinian person’s life and does not detail the violent history Palestinian people have experienced that precedes October 7th,” says member of Teachers and School Staff for Palestine Victoria, Natalie Calleja.

It is long overdue for the leaders of the Victorian Department of Education to end their own complicity in Israel’s perpetration of genocidal violence. Additionally, this complicity extends to the attempts made by our Minister for Education to silence teachers and students speaking out about their feelings of significant concern for Palestinian people, including those in our community who are personally affected by the violent and fatal injustices perpetrated by Israel and inflicted on Palestinian people that we are witnessing,” continued Natalie.

Our Ministers must unequivocally break support for Israel, and actively support teachers and students during a time when our state, national, and international welfare is severely affected by the impunity Israel has been permitted to violently act with; a stance we would expect to be extended to any circumstances and atrocities that harmed any group and peoples.“Our own students are witnessing catastrophic devastation unfold in real time; the targeted destruction of Palestinian people will have short and long term effects on their social, emotional, and cultural wellbeing, impeding their capacity to live and learn well. We must act with care and compassion for all children, young people, and peoples more broadly.”

Philkip Zajac, president of The Jewish Community Council of Victoria, responded by writing an open letter of his own.

He wrote: “We are yet again disappointed to see a group of teachers exploiting their positions to promote a one-sided, biased and over-simplified position to an extremely layered and complex situation unfolding in the Middle East.

The penned letter to Ben Carroll MP (Victorian State Minister for Education), Jason Clare MP (Federal Minister for Education), and Lizzie Blandthorn MLC (Victorian State Minister for Children) makes no mention of the atrocities perpetrated by Hamas on October 7th 2023.

Furthermore, the group claims that their “…duty of care requires that we take reasonable steps to reduce the risk of reasonably foreseeable harm to students…” but neglects to consider any Jewish student or teacher affected by the atrocities in Israel, or the aftermath in the diaspora which has seen a frightening rise in antisemitism.

We reiterate: schoolgrounds are not the place to promote toxic, divisive agendas. The reality is that Jewish students and teachers’ safety is now in contention. 700 signatories to the letter have indirectly stated that the Jewish perspective and trauma has no significance.

We call on the Department of Education to ensure that all students and teachers feel safe.


One Response to “Oct 7 missing in anti-Israel letter from Victorian teachers”
  1. Liat Kirby says:

    How shocking that this fanatical group the Teachers & School Staff for Palestine Victoria would be signatories to such a letter to the Victorian Education Department, trying to bring their toxic politics and hatred into Victorian classrooms. We need to see a very clear statement from VDE that puts them in their place and secures the atmosphere of healthy learning and Australian curriculum in our schools.

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