Teachers in Dutch schools feel powerless to counter violently antisemitic attitudes among their students, according to a new report commissioned by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Education.
Entitled “Two Worlds, Two Realities – How Do You Deal with It as a Teacher?”, the 55-page document has been created by Dutch-Jewish journalist Margalith Kleijwegt based on her visits to schools across the country and interviews with teachers since last January.
The report found strongly antisemitic views to be especially prevalent among Muslim students, with cited evidence including an incident at a high school in Amsterdam. A female teacher there told Kleijwegt how a female student of Moroccan descent stood up and said: “If I had a Kalashnikov [assault rifle], I’d gun down all the Jews.”
The teacher is quoted as saying: “I wasn’t getting there. I asked her to imagine a 5-year-old Jewish girl who lives here. What would she have to do with Israel’s policies? Unfortunately, there was no place for empathy. The pupil didn’t care about that girl. She had only one message: The Jews should die.”
Kleijwegt concluded: “Anti-Semitic behaviour is a recurrent problem in some schools. Some see it as a provocation [by pupils], others fear it goes deeper: That pupils receive anti-Jewish attitudes at home.”
Dutch Education Minister Jet Bussemaker commented that the report “shows a reality that is inconvenient and sometimes painful” but which must be addressed “in accordance to democratic values”.