5 teens arrested in Sydney for threatening Jewish students on bus

Marcy Oster

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – Five teenagers were arrested for allegedly hurling anti-Semitic abuse and physically threatening Jewish school students on a bus in Sydney.

Police confirmed that the five minors were arrested Thursday morning but were too drunk to be interviewed. They were released into their parents’ custody and are expected to be interrogated by police later Thursday, a police spokesman said.

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Police are still searching for several other youths believed to have been engaged in the chilling scene that has stunned the Jewish community here.

About 30 children from Moriah College, Mt Sinai College and Emanuel School were aboard the bus when the driver stopped to collect a group of 15- to 17-year-olds, apparently wearing school uniforms.

Police allege the youths then racially taunted some of the kids and physical threatened others. One parent alleged her child told her the offenders yelled “Kill the Jews” and “Heil Hitler.”

Jacqui Blackburn told local media that her 12-year-old daughter said the gang had threatened to “slit the children’s throats.”

Police said they did not believe it to be a targeted attack on the students and said the gang only began racially taunting them once they were aboard the bus.

The bus was not exclusively chartered by the Jewish schools, but is run by the State Transport Authority. Drivers stop to pick up students from several schools. Parents have criticized the driver for not calling police. Police said the driver told them he was unaware of what happened.

The incident drew a chorus of condemnation from across the community. The Executive Council of Australian Jewry issued a statement Wednesday saying it was “deeply concerned” by the incident, as well as the spike in anti-Semitism since the war in Gaza began. “We as a community are profoundly troubled by this latest event and the sequence of anti-Semitic incidents that has preceded it,” the statement said.

The council cited the attack on a visiting rabbi from Jerusalem who was set upon by a gang of youths in Perth earlier this week; the painting of Perth’s only Jewish school with the words “Zionist scum” two weeks ago; and a Melbourne man who recently was called a “Jewish dog” and beaten by two men.

“It is completely unacceptable and morally repugnant to scapegoat or hold responsible Jewish Australians, including children, for events overseas,” the Executive Council of Australian Jewry said.