Over the past few months, there have been eight incidents involving antisemitic slurs directed toward young students, including graffiti of swastikas, mocking gestures, and verbal abuse. In at least one instance, the abuse escalated to physical violence.
The Israeli-American Council (IAC) recently reported an increase in the number of complaints from Israeli-American students regarding antisemitic incidents in schools throughout the United States.
Following the IAC's intervention, the FBI is currently investigating a suspected hate crime against a visibly Jewish 17-year-old boy on the autistic spectrum who was found with a swastika carved on his back after returning from public school in the Las Vegas area.
Moreover, a group of neo-Nazis who belong to the "Goyim Defense League" held a rally outside a Chabad school in Orlando, Florida.
Ido: "A student from my school approached me and told me that I don't belong in the school and should be expelled because I'm Jewish"
Ido, a 14-year-old Israeli-American from Colorado, says: "When I transferred from a Jewish school to a public school, suddenly I began to be exposed to antisemitic incidents directed at me and my friends."
"A girl I know was called a 'Holocaust bitch,' and another boy said to me that he would 'finish what Hitler started.' A student from my school approached me and told me that I don't belong in the school and should be expelled because I'm Jewish, and two other students made Nazi salutes and derogatory gestures towards Jews in the school hallway. Even the issue of swastikas carved in the school has become a daily occurrence."
In another case, an Israeli-American high school student from New Jersey, who was afraid to identify herself by name, says: "A friend and I were talking about a joint football game, and when I joked with him that I was faster or better than him, he started sending me messages that he would kill me like Hitler killed the Jews and that I would escape from him as the Jews fled from the Germans in the Holocaust. The situation was very disturbing."
"he started sending me messages that he would kill me like Hitler killed the Jews and that I would escape from him as the Jews fled from the Germans in the Holocaust. The situation was very disturbing"
IAC CEO Shoham Nicolet stated that due to the increasing number of complaints, the organization has recently launched a website called School Watch, which allows parents and students to report antisemitic incidents that happen on school premises. The organization accompanies complainants in their interactions with schools and authorities.
"We receive at least four complaints every week from Jewish parents or students. It's becoming more and more common for Israeli children to be attacked by teachers and students. History and civics teachers turn to Israeli students and ask them without shame: why is Israel an apartheid state? This happens in high schools and middle schools. It's also starting to happen in elementary schools, where teachers say inappropriate things."
Israeli students are complaining, for example, that in history classes, teachers have removed the Israeli flag from a display of all the world's flags. In another case, a complaint was received from an Israeli student whose history teacher made a comparison between Auschwitz and the situation in Burma.
In another incident, a student complained that his civics teacher initiated a classroom discussion about the BDS movement. "75% of Israeli-Americans encounter antisemitism in schools. Children are afraid to wear IDF shirts and Star of David jewelry. There is no distinction between Israeli and Jewish, there is hatred and it has become the norm.
"Children are being humiliated. In the past two years, we have heard horror stories, and half of the children do not report it to their parents. Parents are afraid to complain for fear of being accused of slander. Our approach is to threaten administrators with the removal of our children. So far, 100% of cases have been handled well and the school receives training on how to deal with antisemitism," Nicolet added.
In history classes, teachers have removed the Israeli flag from a display of all the world's flags. In another incident, a student complained that his civics teacher initiated a classroom discussion about the BDS movement
According to the IAC, 43% of reported incidents occur in high schools, 35% in middle schools, and 22% in elementary schools.
So far, School Watch had received complaints in 16 different states, with California leading the charge with 19% of all reports. Second is Massachusetts with 17%, followed by New Jersey with 16%; Nevada with 12%; Georgia with 8%; Colorado and Texas with 5%; Florida with 4%; Washington and Arizona with 3%; Pennsylvania and Missouri with 2%; and Maryland, Michigan, Virginia and Illinois tied with 1% of all complaints.
“It is important to understand that we are currently operating mainly in places where there are IAC communities. These statistics do not reflect the situation in the United States, but rather where there is awareness of our work, and it certainly does not suggest there are no cases of antisemitism in other states,” the organization said.
First published: 23:45, 04.17.23