An obscene parallel

Melbourne teachers’ protest or moral failure?

'This man’s comments have left me shaken, have made me almost despair - but not quite. For I know that his views are not those of the majority of Australians'

Nina Bassat.
Nina Bassat.

Justifiably, there has been much outcry about the comment, at the Melbourne teachers’ protest on 17 December 2023, by a teacher that “Hamas is doing exactly what they have to do because Israel has left them with no choice”.

He expressed the view that any means necessary should be used by way of resistance and he did so not as a private individual, but as a teacher, clearly identifying himself as such.

I do not propose to canvas whether publicly supporting a terrorist organisation in his capacity as a teacher is in breach of conduct under the terms of his employment. That is a matter for the education department.

What brought a chill to my spine was a further statement about the lessons he learnt on a visit to the Melbourne Holocaust Museum by the Year 10 students from his school. He spoke about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and the resistance against the Nazis. From that, he said, he learned that when you oppress people, they have to pick up arms.

That is what he learnt? That Jews in the Holocaust were oppressed? Not murdered, not brutalised, not cremated, but oppressed? If that is what a visit to the Holocaust Museum has taught him, we live in a sad world indeed.

The Warsaw Ghetto uprising was a last stand to oppose Nazi Germany’s final effort to transport the remaining ghetto population to the gas chambers of the Majdanek and Treblinka extermination camps. The ghetto inmates were not “oppressed”  and taking up arms against innocent civilians. They were fighting the Nazi war machine for their lives because they did not want to be cremated. The moral equivalence being drawn is mind-boggling.

Ironically, burning was one of the barbaric methods used by Hamas against Israelis and citizens of other countries on October 7. No, I did not make that up. Hamas videoed their atrocities, spread them to cheering crowds in Gaza and were hailed as heroes.

Hamas has publicly avowed to repeat the atrocities of 7 October. Anyone who supports those atrocities ought to have the courage of their convictions and watch the triumphal Hamas videos of their rampage of murder, rape, burning and mutilation. I assume that in the interest of being fully informed, the teacher has watched that footage. Where is his outrage, his sense of humanity for the victims of the terror and for the hostages taken by Hamas, who have been drugged, beaten, brutalised and starved?

To equate the self-defence by the Warsaw Ghetto inmates against being cremated to the barbaric, brutal horrific attack on babies, children, men, women, the elderly brings into stark relief the moral decadence of his arguments. That is possibly one of the most obscene parallels I have ever heard.

This man’s comments have left me shaken, have made me almost despair – but not quite. For I know that his views are not those of the majority of Australians. They may be “the silent majority,” but they are the people who understand that the war started with the Hamas attack on October 7.

They are the people who understand that if Israel is to continue to exist, it must ensure that Hamas does not repeat that attack. Above all, they are the people who want teachers to educate their children, not to bring hatred and divisiveness and a biased world view into the class room.

Nina Bassat is a past president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) and a Holocaust survivor.

read more: