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Australian State Education Minister to Investigate Anti-Semitic Incidents

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October 4, 2019
Photo from Wikipedia.

James Merlino, the Minister of Education for the Australian state of Victoria, announced in an Oct. 4 statement that his department will investigate two reported instances of anti-Semitism. 

The Australian Jewish News (AJN) reported on Oct. 3 that a 12-year-old Jewish student at Cheltenham Secondary College was forced to kiss the feet of a Muslim student in July in front of nine other students, which was then filmed and posted to Instagram. 

The AJN report also documented a five-year-old student at Hawthorn West Primary School being bombarded with anti-Semitic slurs due to being circumcised. Neither school was willing to classify the incidents as anti-Semitic.

Merlino called the reported instances “appalling” and condemned anti-Semitism.

“Wherever anti-Semitism occurs, we must be vigilant, respond immediately, and most importantly educate our children,” Merlino said.

He added that one of the Cheltenham students has been suspended, although it was not immediately clear if he was referring to the Muslim student.

“However, I am still very concerned by the parents’ reports and I have asked for an immediate review into how both schools have handled these matters, to ensure they were dealt with appropriately,” Merlino said.

The statement concluded with Merlino saying that he’ll be meeting with the families of the students as well as various Jewish groups. 

“If further changes are necessary to guard against anti-Semitism and the impact it can have on our community we stand ready to make them,” he said.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted that the reported instances of anti-Semitism are “a heartbreaking reminder of the pain caused by #antiSemitism. No child should have to go through this.”

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) tweeted that the reported instances were “shocking” and that “the parents have no choice but to remove their kids from school. How can this be happening in Australia?”

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