THE principal of Reddam House has described an incident at a year 8 boys’ touch football match against Moriah last week as “appalling”, and an “isolated incident of stupidity rather than any religious or racial vilification”.
Before the match started, the Reddam students got into a huddle chanting “Jew FC”. They also played a game in which money was thrown into the middle of the huddle and someone had to grab it while being punched and kicked.
Anti-Semitic remarks were also reportedly heard during and after the match, including “f***ing Jew”.
After the game the Reddam students again chanted “Jew FC”.
Seven of the 10 Reddam offenders are actually Jewish.
Principal Dave Pitcairn told The AJN on Wednesday he has met with the boys and they were “oblivious to the offensive nature of the game they were playing”.
“The negative stereotyping it involved escaped them. The composition of the Reddam team includes seven Jewish students and it defies belief that they were part of this behaviour,” he said.
Phil Kable, Reddam’s head of sport, put an immediate stop to the behaviour. He also wrote to Moriah apologising for the incident, explaining it would be dealt with by the school. The boys each received eight demerits, just shy of suspension, and their parents have been contacted.
“Following my discussion with them, there is an understanding of how inappropriate and appalling their behaviour was,” Pitcairn said.
He added that the students are all aware that this behaviour will not be tolerated and that should racial vilification rear its head again, the students involved would be “asked to leave our school immediately”.
“I am convinced that this is an isolated incident of stupidity rather than any religious or racial vilification, and have never come across this game before in my 16 years as principal of Reddam House.”
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD) CEO Vic Alhadeff met with Pitcairn to discuss the incident.
Commending the Reddam principal “for showing strong and firm leadership on this issue”, Alhadeff said, “The events were appalling and Mr Pitcairn could not be taking the matter more seriously. Our meeting was positive and productive, and the school has immediately taken a number of measures to deliver a clear message to students that such conduct will not be tolerated.”
He added: “It’s important to note that this is the first such incident at Reddam to have come to our attention. It is also shocking that seven of the 10 offenders are Jewish students.”
Asked what measures Moriah teachers took to stop the situation, Moriah principal John Hamey told The AJN, “The coach of our team did take action on the day, asking the boys from the other school to refrain from the behaviour they were displaying.
“I was pleased with the way our students managed themselves in response to the incident, and the maturity and sportsmanship they displayed.”
Reddam year 8 students will take part in JBOD’s Respect, Understanding, Acceptance schools harmony program next term, and Alhadeff will deliver a presentation on leadership and racism at a Reddam assembly this Friday.