Melbourne hotel reinstates worker after alleged involvement in abuse against AFL draftee Harry Sheezel
“We continue to reinforce with the colleague the importance of reflecting our hotels’ values around diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Dvir Abramovich, chair of the Anti-Defamation Commission, said he was staggered by Voco’s decision to reinstate the employee.
“Racist vilification and hatred are never acceptable and must have consequences. The company should have distanced itself from this ugly rhetoric and from the person who perpetrated this travesty,” he said.
“If the organisation wishes to send the unmistakable and powerful message that it stands with its Jewish staff, customers and community, then it must demonstrate that it will never tolerate religious bigotry and harassment.
“I urge the Voco Melbourne Central to reflect on its values and to do some soul-searching on whether it has done the right thing.”
The AFL announced its integrity department was conducting an investigation looking into the online abuse on Monday, which will look into whether those who participated in the abuse are club members.
As it stands, there have been no reports made to police.
“To denounce a young man on the eve of realising his dream of being drafted to the AFL is deplorable and unacceptable, and there is no place for this type of behaviour anywhere in our community,” an AFL spokesperson said.
The Age removed the post from Facebook the following day once its social media team was made aware of the hateful comments. All other posts linking to the article on social media were restricted to prevent further comments.
Acting Age editor Michael Bachelard said the published article was a lovely, positive story about a young man facing a big day – his drafting to the AFL.
“It’s disgraceful and disappointing that sewer-dwellers on social media took such a story and turned it into an excuse for vile antisemitic abuse,” he said.
“As this is, unfortunately, growing more common, we normally use our discretion to block comments on stories that even mention the religion or race of a person. (The social media companies do not allow us to pre-moderate comments.) On this occasion, unfortunately, the story was posted at a busy time – the evening of the state election – and the usual, cautious practice was overlooked.
“Comments were not blocked or adequately moderated until the issue was drawn to our attention, when the situation was rectified. For this, we apologise to Harry Sheezel and the broader Jewish community.”
At the national draft, Sheezel was called at pick No.3 by the Kangaroos on Monday after Aaron Cadman and Will Ashcroft went to GWS and Brisbane, respectively. The youngster expressed his gratitude and said he was excited to be part of the rebuild at North Melbourne.
When he was asked how it felt to be the first Jewish player this century, and how he had handled the online abuse, he said: “I’m just trying to be a role model.
“Hopefully I can be an example for these kids [in the community].“
Sheezel added that he didn’t tolerate the abuse, and the right action should be taken against those responsible.
“I don’t really let that stuff get to me,” he said. “I try to focus on what I can control.”