Troubled teens: Hitler king of Israel
Call for help: High-risk teenagers, mostly new immigrants, use swastikas, racial slurs to convey their emotions; draw pictures of wounded ultra-Orthodox man saying ‘Hail Hitler’ and another calling for 'death to Jews.' Educators: Using Nazi symbols became most effective way of protest for them
The repeated cases of swastikas spray-painted in synagogues and in public places, which naturally caused a storm all around Israel, do not surprise education experts who work with new immigrant high-risk teens.
Nazi symbols and anti-Semite slurs have become the main and most effective means of protest against the injustice they feel they are subject to and against the trials related to their assimilation in Israeli society.
Lately educators witnessed another example of using Nazi symbols as means of protest.
A few days ago, at a final meeting of a seminar for treating new immigrant high-risk teens, counselors asked the teens, age 12-18, to sketch together a drawing on the subject "My Israel." They were flabbergasted by the results.
At the center of the drawing the teens drew a huge swastika with a Star of David next to it and wrote: "I have no other country," and "Hitler king of Israel." The drawing also depicted an ultra-Orthodox man hanging upside-down, a big wound in his stomach, uttering the words "Hail Hitler!" Another drawing showed an ultra-Orthodox man saying in English "I am a pig" and "Death to the Jews” in Russian.
One of the senior counselors said that most of the teens come from broken or dysfunctional families, some have experienced abuse, and some even have police records for drug use and drug trafficking.
'Some think it's funny'
It is not the first time that he saw drawings with swastikas: "It's quite provocative, but it also contains deep, genuine anger. Israeli society must get over the shock and disdain and treat the teens," he said.
"These are kids who immigrated to Israel when they were between the ages of three and 10; they speak Hebrew but are still categorized as Russians by other students. Their parents work very hard and they have no time to spend with them, so the kids feel that no one in the education system really cares whether they study or what will become of them," said the counselor.
Counselors are convinced the defiance stems from alienation. The teens explained the reasons for continuing to draw swastikas despite the fact that some of them had relatives who perished in the Holocaust, and some teens even studied in Jewish schools before immigrating to Israel.
"I drew a swastika because for me the State of Israel is a Nazi State," explained one teen.
"This is the Jewish State, and semi-Jews or foreign kids have no place here. Our parents work hard and we live difficult lives, while ultra-Orthodox don't work and live well, and the natives live even better," he said.
"Some think it is funny," explained one counselor. "It's important to keep it in proportion, but still, it's very disturbing. These kids feel that no one needs them here. Some don't even remember Russia but keep saying 'We are Russians.' The solution is being attentive. Even professionals are stunned by these kinds of displays. Several months ago when we received similar drawings; we presented them to educators and psychologists who, simply put, became paralyzed."