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Photo: Photo: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv
Teacher demonstrates Nazi selection process in classroom
Third grade educator singles out students from former Soviet Union to show Nazi selection process. Irate parents say her 'pedagogic process is unclear and even appalling'

Racism in Israel 2013: Parents who immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union and their third grade children attending a Haifa school, were shocked this week by a lesson given by their Hebrew teacher.

 

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, she chose to demonstrate the Nazi selection process between Jews and non-Jews, by using light-haired children.

 

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One mother said "my son arrived from school and asked me 'mom, am I even Jewish?' I didn't understand where this question came from. At first I thought it was because we saw Holocaust movies. I started talking to him and then he told me what happened. The day after, he told me that one of the girls said that he and the rest of the blond children are German."

 

The mother also said "we come from a Jewish family, my grandmother's sister died in the war and so did other relatives of mine. To go and say that the blond children are like the Nazis is strange. I suggest that the school conduct a thorough examination with this teacher and take measures against her if necessary."

 

Another mother said "my son may not understand the insult, and I also made sure that he won't understand or be insulted, but other children are laughing at them. How could the teacher say something like this? These children were born here, in Israel. Can she tell by the color of their skin who is Jewish and who is not? You would think that there weren't blond children in Europe who were killed in the Holocaust."

 

Another mother described the situation as her daughter relayed it to her: "The teacher spoke with the children about Holocaust Remembrance Day. She explained that the Nazis identified the Jews and chose them, according to skin, hair and eye color. She chose six blond children, all of whom immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union, and asked them to stand in a line facing the class.

 

"The teacher herself, who has dark skin and hair, asked the rest of the children in the class to explain the differences between her and the children standing in the row. They started answering 'they have blond hair and you have black' and 'they have light skin and you have dark.' She answered. 'Very true, that is the reason, these children would not have been taken to the ghetto or killed, because they don't look like Jews rather more like Germans,'" said the shocked mother.

 

At the end of the school day, the children came home and asked difficult questions. "My daughter's friend got home. Her mother was at work and she asked her grandmother 'we don't look like Jews?' The grandmother did not understand what she wanted, as they have been Jews for generations. The entire family. She called her daughter and after she heard what happened, she told me," said the grandmother.

 

According to the parents, as a result of the lesson, the next day one of the students in the class called one of the blond children chosen to demonstrate a "German".

 

'Pedagogic process is unclear'

The six children's families appealed in a letter to the Education Ministry, the Haifa Municipality and to Knesset members from the Education Committee and asked them to intervene. "At their age, children establish themselves and their confidence. Their absorption into society is difficult as it is and the incident didn't add to their confidence at all. Who gave that teacher the right to harm our children!?"

 

The parents also wrote in the letter that the "pedagogic process is unclear and even appalling. It is hard for us to believe that these are the processes the teacher learned in the teachers' seminar on the Holocaust."

 

One of the mothers described the hard feelings: "I had a difficult aliyah process. For years I couldn't study Hebrew well, and everywhere I went I heard 'stinking Russian, go back to Russia.' It hurt, but I knew that my children would not undergo the same thing. My children were born in Israel, their mother tongue is Hebrew, their holidays are Passover and Sukkot. I did not think that the day would come that they are pointed out, and that they will stand in front of the class, to be distinguished from the "Jews."

 

According to another mother, "at the beginning, the children themselves did not understand how severe this is. We only understood through their questions and began asking them and then what happened in this incident was clear. I think that it is simply unbelievable. It can't be that a teacher can do such a thing; thoughtlessly and insensitively. The fact is that the next day while playing, they called one of the children a 'German'."

 

The Education Ministry responded: "in light of the incident the district director, Rachel Matuki, spoke with the teacher and noted before her that there is no place for this kind of behavior in general and in the education system specifically.

 

"The teacher has expressed her regret and noted that she expresses her deep apologies for the incident. The teacher and school counselor are holding discussions with the students in order to create an honorable environment and tolerance in the classrooms and at the school."

 

 

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