A pro-Palestine school strike planned for next week has been slammed by a prominent Jewish community spokesman.
A group called Free Palestine Melbourne (FPM) has called on students across the city to leave their classes and go out on strike from 12.30pm on Thursday, November 23.
‘These guerrilla-style tactics cannot become the new normal in our state,’ Dr Dvir Abramovich, chair of the Anti-Defamation Commission, told Daily Mail Australia.
‘This event, which seeks to poison the minds of students, demonstrates that the anti-Israel forces will use every immoral means to weaponise and exploit young people in order to spread their toxic and malicious agenda.’
Tensions have been rising in Australia since October 7, when Hamas terrorists murdered an estimated 1,400 people in Israel, and Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes on Gaza which have so far killed around 11,000 Palestinians.
A pro-Palestine school strike planned for next week has been slammed by a prominent Jewish community spokesman. A pro-Palestine rally in Melbourne on November 12, 2023 is pictured
‘This dangerous call to arms will only inflame an already antagonistic environment,’ Dr Abramovich, whose cousin, police inspector Chen Amir, was murdered in a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv in August, said.
‘Those attending the protest will not be told about the barbarities committed by Hamas, the beheading of babies, the raping and parading of dead Israeli women, and the execution of children in front of their families, which is the cause of the current conflict.’
He called on the Victorian Department of Education ‘to make it loud and clear that they oppose this recruitment and to assure us that schools should not be co-opted as a device to turn students against one another, stoke the fires of divisiveness, and foment hostility against one group’.
It is understood that schools will operate their usual schedules on the day of the planned strike and that students are expected to attend as normal.
‘Many in our school communities are affected by the devastating events in the Middle East,’ a Victorian Department of Education spokesperson said.
‘Schools are communicating with parents and carers about the current situation, including advice on ensuring that students know where to go for additional support.’
The spokesperson added that ‘schools also ensure students understand that any form of racism is not tolerated, and nor is any language likely to incite any form of racism, anti-Semitism or violence.’
A Victorian Student Representative Council spokesperson said it supported the rights of students to ‘participate in safe, responsible activism’.
‘The power of student voice is not limited to education reform and should be listened to, and amplified in, all areas of their civic participation,’ they said.
‘We encourage students to do their research and be aware of their rights and responsibilities as activists and to take all possible measures to care for their own physical and mental wellbeing as well as considering the wellbeing of others.’
A group called Free Palestine Melbourne has called on students across the city to leave their classes and go out on strike
FPM staged a protest outside the burnt-down Burgertory branch in Caulfield last Friday, which led to the evacuation of a local synagogue.
There was also a counter-protest of pro-Israel supporters, leading to tense scenes as a heavy police presence attempted to keep them apart, with some protesters pepper-sprayed and others taken away in handcuffs.
On Saturday, FPM apologised for the location of its protest, saying ‘Organisers were unaware that there was a Synagogue across the park, the Central Shule Chabad on Maple St, South Caulfield.
‘We apologise to the local Jewish community for the protest location that led to the evacuation of the synagogue, for any fear they may have felt and for the cancellation of Shabbat.
‘We should not have gathered in this location. It was never our intention to disrupt or intimidate Jewish worshippers,’ the group said in a statement on Facebook.
But Dr Abramovich does not accept the apology, saying ‘It’s clear that Free Palestine Melbourne, the group that organised the riot in front of a synagogue … has taken a leaf out of the Hamas playbook in using Victorian children as human shields to sacrifice in their war of disinformation and incitement’.
He said he has ‘no doubt that when the students return to class after absorbing the anti-Israel venom, they will feel contempt for their Jewish classmates and violence and harassment may follow’.
Israel supporters are pictured at a rally in Coogee in Sydney’s eastern suburbs
Dr Abramovich, whose family in Kibbutz Reim hid in a safe room last month while Hamas terrorists killed their neighbours, said students who take part in the strike should ‘face disciplinary consequences’.
‘In a climate of escalating anti-Semitism and a growing rhetoric of intolerance and radicalisation, words and images do matter.
‘The ugly and destructive tensions and ideologies of a conflict in the Middle East should not be imported into Victoria and corrupt our students’ hearts and minds.’
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Free Palestine Melbourne for comment.