Extremist chant at a primary school

On Monday 6th of May a member of the public was walking past Fitzroy Primary School when they were shocked to hear very young children in the playground chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. They recorded the sound as they walked passed and then shared the video with the Online Hate Prevention Institute.

An article in the Herald Sun broke the story [1].

It includes a statement from a spokesman for the Department of Education who said that schools and the areas immediate around them should not be used by activists and community groups for protests, “especially primary schools, where they can be frightening and distressing for young children and their parents”.

It also includes a comment from our CEO:

“To hear young children chanting that slogan in the schoolyard is alarming. It highlights the normalisation of antisemitic and extremist rhetoric that has pervaded daily life, including family life, in some parts of the Australian community. It undermines Australian values and opens the door to radicalisation.”

Dr Andre Oboler, CEO, Online Hate Prevention Institute

This concern reflects the fact that the slogan is, as stated in a resolution that was passed with a large majority by the US House of Representatives last month, “an antisemitic call to arms with the goal of the eradication of the State of Israel, which is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea”. The slogan also noting that “Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and other terrorist organizations and their sympathizers have used and continue to use this slogan as a rallying cry for action to destroy Israel and exterminate the Jewish people”.

While the slogan dates back to 1964 and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and has been interpreted in various ways over the decades, as the Associated Press notes, “By 2012, it was clear that Hamas had claimed the slogan”. The German Interior Ministry banned the slogan in November 2023 as a symbol of the Hamas terrorist organisation, following the October 7 terrorist attack in which Hamas infiltrated Israel and killed 1,143 people including 36 children. This includes the Re’im music festival massacre in which 364 were killed and the Be’eri massacre in which over 100 people were killed. The attack also saw 247 people taken hostage, itself a war crime, and 3,400 people wounded.

[1] Rebecca Borg and Suzan Delibasic, “Fitzroy Primary School students heard chanting controversial ‘from the river to the sea’”, The Herald Sun, 8 May 2024.