A sharp rise in attacks on Jewish students in the German school system has prompted authorities to recruit 170 anti-bullying experts to combat the problem.
“Anti-Semitism in schools is a big problem,” Families Minister Franziska Giffey conceded as she announced the plan, adding “we have to take religious bullying in classrooms and schoolyards very seriously.”
Last month Germans were shocked by the case of a boy aged 15 taunted by anti-Semitic bullies at the John F Kennedy School in a well-off area of Berlin.
Twelve-months before, beatings and abuse from Muslim classmates were cited by the parents of a Jewish teenager as the reason they removed him from a leading Berlin school.
A Jewish teenager has left a Berlin school following beatings and anti-Semitic abuse from Muslim classmates. https://t.co/MLjtzr01pv
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 28, 2017
Ms Giffey, a centre-left Social Democrat (SPD) politician, said teachers needed more support to combat anti-Semitism, as the problem went beyond the classroom, involving parents and society at large.
“So in the coming school year, as a first step, we will send 170 anti-bullying experts into selected schools in Germany, funded by the federal authorities,” she told the daily Rheinische Post.
It remains unclear if the Jewish boy bullied at the John F Kennedy School will return there after the summer, the Berliner Morgenpost daily reports. The bilingual school in Zehlendorf teaches German and American children.
Reports say one bully blew e-cigarette smoke in the boy’s face, saying “that should remind you of your forefathers” – a reference to the Holocaust.
Bullies also reportedly drew swastikas on post-it notes and stuck them on the boy’s back.
As Breitbart Jerusalem has reported, anti-Semitism is rising in a variety of forms in Germany, and is being found to include criticism of the modern state of Israel in general and Jews in particular.
The Independent Expert Group on anti-Semitism published its findings in Germany last year. It found Jews are “increasingly concerned for their safety due to everyday experiences of anti-Semitism” as the number surveyed who agreed with anti-Semitic statements rose from 28 per cent in 2014 to 40 per cent in 2016.
In an interview with the daily Der Tagesspiegel, the German government’s new anti-Semitism tsar, Felix Klein, recently spoke of “a brutalised climate now, in which more people feel emboldened to say anti-Semitic things on the internet and in the street”.
Teachers in some of Berlin’s most heavily migrant-populated schools have also complained that they are seeing a large increase in bullying along religious lines, primarily from Muslim students.
Hildegard Greif-Gross, director of the Peter Petersen Elementary School in Neukölln, claimed that there are many examples of religious bullying even with younger students. Greif-Gross said that Muslim students would bully others on as little as bringing a ham sandwich for their lunch because they were taught pork is forbidden in Islam, Berliner Zeitung reports.
“Even gummy bears are not considered clean,” Greif-Gross added noting that Muslims objected to the use of gelatin which is a beef byproduct and may not have been halal slaughtered.