Combined statement issued

Year 12 students speak out against hate

Every Jewish day school in Victoria, plus Carmel School in Perth, WA, participated in the project, with students working together on a shared document.

The offensive graffiti at Mount Scopus College.
The offensive graffiti at Mount Scopus College.

A powerful statement about antisemitism in Australia is being issued by year 12 students at several Jewish schools today.

Published exclusively in the AJN, the students have done this entirely on their own initiative.

They say they are concerned about the atmosphere they are now facing as young Jews in Australia.

Every Jewish day school in Victoria, plus Carmel School in Perth, WA, participated in the project, with students working together on a shared document.

New South Wales Jewish school students were initially involved but later withdrew from the project.

One of the organisers, Justin Gross from Melbourne’s Mount Scopus Memorial College, said they wanted to stand up to hate and express their feelings.

“We felt as though it was not good enough to just sit back and watch antisemitism rise to terrifying heights without expressing our thoughts in an attempt to compel Members of parliament and the government to be more proactive in combating it” he said.

Gross said while the Year 12 students were lucky enough to have the backing and guidance of the principals and leadership of their schools, the statement was written by the students and the ideas contained within it are entirely student produced.

“A few student leaders wrote a base statement which was then added to and edited by a wide range of student leaders from all the various schools. We utilised group chats and other communication methods in order to incorporate all the other students input into one united statement” he said.
The students want their statement to be read by state and federal politicians and would love it to be mentioned in parliament.

The schools involved are: Mount Scopus Memorial College, Bialik College, King David School, Yavneh Leibler College, Yeshiva College, Beth Rivkah Ladies College and the Carmel School in Perth.

Dan Sztrajt, Principal of Mount Scopus Memorial College said the statement is something the students can be particularly proud of.

“It saddens me greatly that our students have needed to prepare and share this letter.  Yet I’m incredibly proud of them for standing up for what they believe in, and defending their rights as young Australian Jews” he said.
Sztrajt said at one point a student approached him to provide some advice on the wording of this statement letter, and as an adult in the community he was tempted to re-draft it in his words.

“But we discussed not doing that, and allowing this statement to specifically express a youth voice.  These really are the words of our students” he said.

Antisemitic grafitti on the wall of Mount Scopus Memorial College is one of the incidents that’s  led Jewish students in Victoria and WA to issue a statement.

In Unity, We Stand: Jewish Youth Against Hate 

As leaders of the Australian Jewish youth, we are proud and deeply engaged in Jewish life, learning, and practice.

Connected to a rich heritage of Jewish integration in Australian society, we have dreams and aspirations as young adults.

As we near the end of our schooling, we reflect on the opportunities and challenges ahead.

Recently, many have spoken on our behalf. Now, we wish to share our perspective, express our feelings, and voice the deep concerns of thousands of young Jews like us.

Our schools, established by Holocaust survivors, ensure Jewish children receive a holistic education in a safe environment, deepening their connection to their heritage and preparing them to be upstanding citizens of Australia.

The Jewish community proudly enjoys a high representation in tertiary institutions, with alumni contributing significantly to Australian society.

Following the devastating attacks on southern Israel by Hamas terrorists on October 7 2023, and the ensuing conflict in the region, Jewish schools became one of our few safe spaces at a time when we encountered hostility on the streets and online platforms, which are filled with disinformation, as well as both latent and blatant antisemitism.

For the last eight months, entrenched prejudices have led to a 738% increase in reported antisemitic incidents.

We have heard strong condemnations and promises from the government, but without action, these words ring hollow.

We wonder why and how we arrived at this point.

As Year 12 students deciding on universities, we now consider which institutions are safest for Jews.

We are profoundly disillusioned with the passivity of Australian universities in addressing hate speech.

Chants like “From the River to The Sea” and “Intifada,” alongside intimidation and threats, are all too familiar in an environment where antisemitism is enabled by leaders and bystanders alike.

Some argue that protestors are exercising their right to freedom of speech; however, when this speech transitions into hate speech, it violates university codes of conduct.

Clause 4.6 of the University of Melbourne’s Freedom of Speech Policy states that the university does not support speech that undermines individuals’ capacity to participate fully.

We question why our concerns have been so thoroughly ignored.

Governments and Universities have been indecisive or unwilling to act against actions that undermine an inclusive society.

Clear instruction from Federal and State Governments to Universities and Police is essential to uphold existing hate speech laws.

Our nation prides itself on equality and justice, making the apathy towards anti-Jewish hate particularly painful.

We wish to remind you of what is at stake in our democracy.

Our concerns are personal, but we worry for our collective future.

We have been taught that mateship and fairness are core Australian values.

When we hear the words from Dennis Richardson AO, former Director-General of Security of Australia suggesting that, “Hitler would be proud”, we not only recognise that Never Again is now, but are put on notice by the potential dangers of unchecked antisemitism, as well as any forms of racism, discrimination and division in our broader community.

Australia is meant to be a country that is ‘one and free’, yet as young Jewish Australians, we have been made to feel all too often that we do not belong.
We seek unequivocal support and protection from our institutions and country.

Our community needs not only condemnation of antisemitism but decisive action to ensure we can live freely as Jews in Australia.

Hate speech laws must be affirmed, amplified, and enforced.

As Jewish students of Australia, we will not stand for the vilification of our community.

We refuse to suppress our identity or yield to voices spewing anti-Jewish vitriol. We will not allow hatred to dictate our existence.

We will continue to be proud. Proud to be Jewish. Proud to be Zionist. Proud to be Australian.


Students of Mount Scopus Memorial College 

Students of Bialik College

Students of The King David School

Students of Yavneh Leibler College 

Students of Yeshivah College

Students of Beth Rivkah Ladies College 

Students of Carmel School 

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