A British-Jewish family in Berlin has been forced to pull their 14-year-old son out of his school after he was subjected to months of antisemitic bullying.
The boy was sent to Friedenauer Gemeinschaftsschule, a school they were attracted to initially because of its diverse pupils, many of whom are from an Arab or Turkish background. However, when the son mentioned he was Jewish, one pupil said to him “Listen, you are a cool dude but I can’t be friends with you, Jews are all murderers”.
The mother said that verbal abuse quickly escalated into physical violence, and this month “he was attacked and almost strangled, and the guy pulled a toy gun on him that looked like a real gun. And the whole crowd of kids laughed. He was completely shaken”.
The mother had approached the Headteacher of the school, asking whether he could bring in an organisation to educate the children about antisemitism, as well as other forms of xenophobia and racism, but despite him appearing open to the idea, no action was taken. The mother’s parents are Holocaust survivors who have spoken at the school.
There have been indications for over a decade that antisemitism was driving Jewish students out of state schools and to Jewish schools, with Deidre Berger suggesting in 2015 that more and more Jewish students were attending Jewish schools for fear of antisemitism and in 2006, Der Spiegel running a report on Jewish schoolchildren who had been pushed out of secular schools by antisemitism.
According to the JC, the Moses Mendelssohn Jewish High School in Berlin receives 6 to 10 applications each year from Jewish students who have similarly been forced out of other schools by antisemitism, indicating a huge problem in the city’s schools. Aaron Eckstaedt, the school’s headteacher, says that parents are often concerned with the lack of formal response from those schools, and that the complaints are often centred around students of an Arab or Turkish background.
It is not known whether these incidents are being investigated by the police.