Australia / 16-01-2017
New research conducted in public schools in Australia, reveals disturbing trends of antisemitism
Prof. Zahavit Gross, head of research of the Van Gelder Institute for Holocaust Studies at Bar Ilan University, discovered quite by accident the phenomenon of “antisemitism in the playground" in Australia, when she came to Australia as part of a large study conducted with Professor Suzanne Rutland of the University of Sydney about Jewish schools in Sydney, Melbourne, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing and Shanghai.
Just before the end of her visit, after eight years of work, they decided to enter the public schools to check on Jewish children attending Jewish classes in a special framework. According to Australian law, a student is entitled to half an hour each week to study the religion to which he belongs, or to study ethics.
Professor Gross told later: "It was important for me to check the frame, and see what's happening in practice. I must say that as a researcher I thought that half an hour once a week is very not effective, and probably does not mean anything - but I discovered to my surprise that the frame is seen as very successful in the eyes of students and their parents, and we wanted to find out what is the secret of success."
As part of the observations they found, as Gross explains: "an amazing thing we did not expect to find: the students said that it was actually the safest place they have in school”. Gross says that the Jewish children in public schools hear "classic antisemitic expressions as we can find in literature" she says, "the Jew who has a long nose, Jews pursuers of money and who want to dominate the world".
Modern antisemitism is also part of it, Gross adds. "They are being persecuted because of Israel, because of the occupation, and because of the way Israel treats Palestinians."
Gross indicates that the data were a real shock for her - "I fainted". The children testified, inter alia about insults like "long nose", chasing after boys in school and threatening them "to do them another circumcision and the most humiliating thing that repeated itself is the so-called 'de Kevin Storey: throw them a nickel, and say to them: Jews, pick it up because Jews are misers and greedy ".
"A boy in high school told us that each time he enters the English class, two students stand in the classroom and say to him, 'Heil Hitler, Hitler should have finished the job." Children come to school like that, and are exposed to violence".
Gross says that the majority of students in elementary and high schools prefer to hide their Jewishness in order to avoid incidents of this type. And where are the parents? According to the researcher, parents are in denial: "This is a very serious phenomenon of antisemitism denial. After the research we spoke to the school principals and told them about what we had heard. They answered: “What? It is impossible that something like this is going on in our school”.