Medical workers ‘hiding Jewish identity’

These alarming statistics led Jewish practitioners Dr Deborah Bell and Dr Karen Fink to launch the Alliance Against Antisemitism in Healthcare.

Photo: Screenshot
Photo: Screenshot

Antisemitism harassment of Jewish healthcare workers has skyrocketed since October 7, according to a survey by an Australian Jewish support group in the profession.

The investigation found that almost half of Victorian Jewish medical workers and students surveyed reported they have hidden their Jewish identity in the workplace in an attempt to avoid anti-Jewish discrimination and that the findings almost certainly reflect a national trend.

These alarming statistics led Jewish practitioners Dr Deborah Bell and Dr Karen Fink to launch the Alliance Against Antisemitism in Healthcare (AAAHC) earlier this year. The organisation has since been incorporated into the Australian Academic Alliance Against Antisemitism.

Bell said that since the Hamas attacks, “we have seen an unprecedented lack of cultural safety for Jewish healthcare professionals in the workplace and an alarming absence of hospital leadership in addressing this”.

AAAHC surveyed Victorian Jewish healthcare professionals after anecdotal evidence that many could no longer count on safe workplaces. The survey questioned 265 respondents, mostly senior medical staff and allied health professionals working in the public sector, predominantly hospitals.

The results were collated by Melbourne palliative care specialist Dr Naomi Katz, along with Dr Merav Katz, Dr Nikki Adler and Dr Jack Green, president of the Australasian Jewish Medical Federation (Victoria), which separately made a submission on healthcare antisemitism to federal Health Minister Mark Butler.

The survey found almost half (48 per cent) of medical professionals in Victoria felt a need to hide their Jewish identity since October 7. One-third had experienced antisemitism in the workplace, and two-thirds were aware of others experiencing workplace antisemitism. Almost three-quarters felt unable to report or escalate these experiences.

Naomi Katz told The AJN the Victorian survey is almost certainly reflective of trends in NSW and nationally. The AAAHC is now working on strategies to deal with the findings, particularly the challenges facing more junior professionals in reporting antisemitic behaviour through the hierarchy above them.

She said Jewish doctors have also experienced difficulty in trying to have responses accepted for publication after pro-Palestinian and antisemitic statements appear in articles in medical blogs, forums and journals, because their responses “don’t match the narrative of the editors”.

AAAHC has proactively supported Israeli colleagues invited to speak at conferences who have faced threats of cancellation and violence, said Bell, noting the disinvitation of Israeli trauma expert Dr Moshe Farchi from addressing a medical conference on the Gold Coast last year. (The Australia New Zealand Mental Health Association later apologised.)

Bell said AAAHC is here “to provide informal support to health professionals of all disciplines who experience antisemitism or feel unsafe in their workplace due to their Jewish identity. We recognise that hierarchy in healthcare systems may disempower some people from escalating their experiences. We are happy to be contacted privately to consider what informal support or escalation processes may be helpful.”

Green told The AJN that since October 7, AJMF has run a WhatsApp group for Jewish doctors in which “we have seen evidence of the stress and distress experienced by Jewish doctors in many different areas of health practice since the onset of the Israel-Gaza war … In our view, cultural competency and anti-racism training in hospitals is vital and there should be modules regarding antisemitism incorporated into this for all hospital staff. Hospitals should be apolitical spaces that are safe and comfortable for all health workers and patients.”

To report incidents of antisemitism in a healthcare workplace, contact AAAHC at or AJMF at

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