Melbourne, Vic. – Police are investigating an incident in which a group of Jewish students were threatened with a knife and subjected to antisemitic comments on a bus in Elsternwick on Thursday afternoon.
About 10 students from Leibler Yavneh College boarded a public bus on Clarence Street around 4.20pm, before a passenger began to discuss “Jews, money, and drugs”, according to a student on the bus.
“He was getting louder and louder, to the point of shouting ‘Nazi’ and my friends heard him call himself a Nazi,” said the student, who asked not to be identified.
“Then out of his bag he pulled out a massive, serrated knife approximately six inches in length. One of the boys on the bus told everyone to run and get off, and we were yelling at the bus driver, ‘Open the door, he has a knife’.”
The man pursued the students for a short distance near the corner of Orrong and Glen Huntly Roads before fleeing the scene.
A Victoria Police spokeswoman confirmed they were investigating the attack.
“It’s understood a number of school students were onboard the bus when the man, believed to be in possession of a knife, began behaving erratically and shouting offensive antisemitic comments.
“Police arrived at the scene and were unable to locate the victims or offender after extensive patrols of the area,” the police spokeswoman said.
Leibler Yavneh College issued a statement to all parents on Thursday evening and provided students with a briefing at school assembly on Friday morning.
The college told parents the incident had been reported to Victoria Police and a local security company.
Dvir Abramovich, chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission, said he had spoken with one of the students targeted in the incident, who was deeply traumatised.
“This is a hate crime, pure and simple. And this savage and violent incident could have ended in serious injury or worse,” Abramovich said.
“No wonder the community is on edge, and it may be an uncomfortable truth for some, but the reality is that the rising wave of attacks against Jews here is becoming commonplace.”
The police spokeswoman said any antisemitic behaviour would not be tolerated.
“There is absolutely no place at all in our society for antisemitic or hate-based behaviour and Victoria Police is committed to responding to any such acts,” she said.