Australian Jewish Students Demand Answers Over Antisemitic Social Media User Employed by Education Dept
The New South Wales Department of Education (NSW) said it would soon take “appropriate action” against a staffer who wrote antisemitic comments on a Facebook post belonging to the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS), the Australian Jewish News reported Thursday.
“It’s such a shame [Hitler] didn’t finish his job,” wrote the staffer, an unidentified woman from Sydney, in May, replying to a picture of the Nazi leader posted by another user.
Since then, NSW officials have been criticized for “shielding” her identity from the public and not firing her.
On Aug. 18, AUJS Political Affairs Director Gabrielle Stricker-Phelps told Australia’s Daily Telegraph that Jewish students had expected Australia’s Minister for Education and Youth Alan Tudge to “take action.” On Thursday, she urged him “to share the outcome of the investigation given the seriousness of the comment in the context of rising antisemitism.”
The NSW, however, has complained about inquiries into its investigation and recently rejected a freedom of information request by Walt Secord, of the opposition Labor party.
Argued the NSW to Secord, “There is an overriding public interest against disclosure of the information,” and “the public interest in protecting the [employee’s] privacy considerably outweighs the public interest in releasing their personal information to you.”
Secord questioned the department’s priorities.
“Something is deeply wrong when the Education Department is only concerned about the rights of the person who posted pro-Hitler comments rather than disciplining them,” he said. “This is political correctness gone mad. Why is the Education Department shielding an employee who posted antisemitic pro-Hitler comments?”
Speaking to Australian Jewish News this week, Darren Bark, CEO of New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, said that NSW’s silence “has been met with considerable disappointment.”
“Transparency in relation to the status of this individual’s employment with the Department of Education, and the timeframes associated with the conclusion of the investigation would go a long way to reassuring the community that your department is addressing this issue appropriately and promptly,” she said.
An NSW Education spokesperson told the outlet that the department “rejects racism in all forms.”
“The matter is being investigated by the professional and ethical standards unit, and it is inappropriate to comment further,” it said. “Once the investigation is complete, appropriate action will be taken.”