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Credlin, Sky News, 21 November 2023

Peta Credlin: Joining me now to discuss this, Shadow Minister for Education, Senator Sarah Henderson, and the woman who penned the letter, Moran. Moran and Sarah, thank you for your time. Moran I’ll start with you if I can, tell us how parents and the broader Jewish community feels about these protests and the use of children in them because something’s compelled you to write a really powerful letter and I think my audience needs to understand how tough this is.

Moran: Thanks, Peta. Look, it’s been a really difficult six weeks for our community and for Jewish communities all over the world. I’m just one community member who wrote with a few people this letter because we are so concerned and we were so worried and dismayed to hear about this rally that’s being organised targeting school children. The reason we wrote the letter was because we believe that Premier Allen needs to take a much firmer stance and be quite explicit about her advice to schools and parents, which we feel should be that it is highly inappropriate and even unsafe for children and school students to be skipping school and attending this rally, which as we know has been organised by groups in the community who, you know, their rallies have ended with vandalism, you know, very highly anti-Semitic tropes and placards, as well as the same group that organised the angry mob to come to Caulfield a few weeks ago, where there was tear gas and rocks thrown and arrests made. So I can’t really believe, you know, it’s hard to believe that any parent would think that that’s a good place for their child to go.

Peta Credlin: And that’s a really fair point there. Sarah, I mean, yes, we want the premier to take a stand. This letter calls for a clear and forceful stance on the rally, but also you’ve got to say, where are the parents in all of this? These kids can’t vote. I suspect most couldn’t even find Gaza on a map, yet they’ll be used as pawns, they’ll be a recruitment vehicle for the Greens in particular. What would you do if you were the minister?

Senator Henderson: Well Peta, great to join you. And firstly, I want to congratulate Moran for this very important initiative which comes off the back of Premier Jacinta Allan basically Green lighting this protest by saying that students have a right to attend, a democratic right to attend this protest when we know this is all about activism, this is all about indoctrination, and of course it’s all about fuelling anti-Semitism. And that’s what’s going to happen not just here in Melbourne, but there are other protests around the country. As a parent, I think most parents would be dismayed because classrooms are for education, not indoctrination. Frankly the Premier has been completely irresponsible and reckless. And I’ve called on the Albanese Government again today and the Education Minister, Jason Clare, Peta, to take a tougher stand to make it very clear that children need to be in school and they should not be used as political pawns.

Peta Credlin: Moran It’s one thing for adults, I think, to see vast numbers of people rallying on the weekend, as we’ve seen here and around the world. But I can’t imagine what it must be like for Jewish kids to anticipate their own peers marching in the street against them, yes, it’s anti-Semitism, It’s open Jew hate. That’s got to be also front of mind for parents like you.

Moran: Look, that was the real driver of this letter. We’re just worried about our kids. I mean, you know what happens on Friday morning when they turn up to school and they look around and, you know, start hearing their peers talk about, what they did at the rally and what and which signs they held. It just really compromises their feelings of psychological and physical safety and I think that right is much more important than the right to demonstrate or the right for free speech. But I think from our point of view, we feel like we’re watching a car accident in slow motion. We know how this is going to end. We know that every one of these rallies, creates a burst of anti-Semitic activity. And I think it puts a lot of pressure on schools and teachers to navigate this at school. I don’t really know how they can. But, we’re definitely worried about how this will play out in the schoolyard and our kids are already feeling unsafe. A lot of them, when they’re on public transport, turn their jumpers inside out or change their uniforms so that they’re not identified as Jewish. So it’s extremely difficult. I mean, we know children are the most vulnerable members of the community and it’s just really saddens us to see that that they have to go through this.

Peta Credlin: I mean Sarah, honestly, you used to work at the ABC many years ago. If people were abusing schoolgirls with hijabs on, it would be front of the newspapers, we’d all be talking about it through the national broadcaster. But somehow there is a level of silence, certainly not here on Sky News, but there’s a level of silence because these are Jewish kids and somehow it’s been licensed that you could go after a Jewish Australians on the back of this Israeli conflict. That’s what concerns me. And again, the parents and the teachers, It’s not as if Australian school standards are leading the world, they’ve had such a dramatic fall in recent times where protesting about climate change last week and now Palestine this week.

Senator Henderson: Peta absolutely. I visited a wonderful Jewish school in Melbourne today, Mount Scopus Memorial College, and met with Year 11 students and they spoke about their genuine fears and doing just that. Some of them are too afraid to show symbols of their faith in public, some were very proud to wear their symbols of faith. But there is no doubt that this protest really poses a very serious risk to the safety and well-being of Jewish students, but more broadly sends the message that they don’t matter in our community and it is absolutely shocking. And as for the ABC and some of the coverage that we are seeing, as you say, if this was happening with any other sector of our community, there would be front page headlines everywhere and it is not good enough, Peta. All students must be safe when they go to school and parents expect them to go to school. And as you say, the school standards across Australia, with 1 in 3 students failing NAPLAN, students need every single day in school to get the best quality education. And it’s absolutely appalling that this is happening. Jacinta Allan and the Education Minister must direct schools and school principals not to allow any student to go to this protest. It must be a firm rule. And I can tell you, frankly, if this doesn’t happen, if this all goes pear shaped, which I’m sure it will, I think that the premier’s days in the top job are numbered. She frankly has absolutely let down all Victorians by her pathetic and irresponsible stand.

Peta Credlin: All right. We’ll leave it there. Moran Thank you for your time. I want to assure you the vast majority of Australians are standing with you. I know it’s particularly tough.

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