As new reports of anti-Semitism continue to flood the media, an especially troubling attack in Sydney, Australia has made headlines around the world.
A group of Jewish children and their parents were traumatized Wednesday by an attack by a gang of eight anti-Semitic teens who boarded a government school bus.
Dozens of the children were trapped in the school bus when the gang started hurling anti-Semitic threats and other verbal abuse at the children on Wednesday.
As the bus traveled towards the Sydney suburb of Bondi, drunken gang members yelled, “Kill the Jews,” and “Free Palestine,” “Palestine, Palestine, You’ve taken over our country, what do you want with our country,” and “Heil Hitler.”
The children, ages five to 12, were all from Jewish schools in Sydney’s eastern suburbs – Mount Sinai College, Emanuel School and Moriah College. They were not physically harmed but all were badly traumatized.
The bus is not open to members of the public, officials said. Parents picked up their children from Rose Bay and gave statements to police. But the bus driver cursed at a parent who questioned why he allowed the gang members to board in the first place.
Jackie Blackburn, the parent who questioned the driver, spoke with several members of the media. She told the Daily Mail Australia, “He was very rude to me, he swore at me and he wouldn’t give me any information. I said: ‘Mate, the police are onto you, they are all over the roads.’ He told me to f— off.’ “ The same gang had apparently targeted an earlier bus traveling from the same three Jewish schools, Blackburn said, and had kicked at the door, but were not allowed to board.
Blackburn told Channel 9, that her eldest daughter, age 12, was distraught and said the gang members were threatening to slit the children’s throats. The group knocked the phone out of her daughter’s hand, she said, but a friend found it and called her.
She raced to the scene, she said, and was “actually chasing the bus, I was just saying to the kids, ‘Where are you? Where are you?’”
The offenders got off the bus on Bronte Road at Bondi Junction, police said; they were identified after officers reviewed the CCTV footage on the bus.
Victor Dominello, Minister for Citizenship and Communities, made it clear government officials would pursue the case. “The people of NSW will never excuse it,” he said. “We are lucky to live in one of the most harmonious multicultural societies in the world but we must never be complacent. It is incumbent upon all citizens to expose those whose actions are based on racial hatred and who seek to import overseas conflict onto our streets.”
Five of the teens, ages 15 to 17, were arrested by New South Wales state police early Thursday and questioned in connection with the attack. A sixth is still being sought, police said.
The five were later released into their parents’ custody without being charged, pending further investigation, according to Associated Press.
The youths were “too drunk to be interviewed at the time,” according to police superintendent Jason Box, the Eastern Suburbs local area commander, who spoke with The Sydney Morning Herald.
“I’ve been informed that some of the six juveniles had bus passes and were in partial school uniform and I can only assume that the bus driver believed that they were school children due to their age and what they were wearing and that bus passes were produced,” Box told local media.
Hana Levi Julian