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Bullying experts to tackle anti-Semitism

Nicole Goebel
July 5, 2018

German Family Minister Franziska Giffey wants to send bullying prevention experts to schools to curb a rise in anti-Jewish attacks. Berlin schools, in particular, have seen anti-Semitic bullying in recent months.

Pupil wearing a yarmulke writes on a blackboard
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/D. Bockwoldt

Family Minister Franziska Giffey plans to fund 170 bullying prevention experts, who are to be sent to selected German schools, she told Thursday's edition of German daily Rheinische Post.

Asked if anti-Semitism is a growing problem in schools now that Germany has more pupils from countries that are hostile to Israel, she replied that "anti-Semitism in schools is a big problem."

"We need to take religious bullying in classrooms and school playgrounds very seriously, regardless of who the bullies are," she told the paper.

She pointed out that teachers need assistance in fighting bullies of any kind. "In school, children must learn respect and how to live together peacefully; that is the foundation of a peaceful society."

Anti-Semitism from different sides

German schools, especially in the capital, Berlin, have seen a rise in anti-Semitic incidents. In the John F. Kennedy school, a student was bullied for months with anti-Jewish taunts and pictures of swastikas. He was also told that he was not "a good Jew" by some classmates.

Other schools have reported anti-Semitic bullying and attacks motivated by anti-Israeli sentiment of some Muslim students.

The latest government statistics released in May 2018 show that more than 90 percent of anti-Semitic crime is perpetrated by the far-right.

Read more: Merkel's CDU urges mandatory reporting of anti-Semitism in schools

German-Jewish groups and Germany's anti-Semitism commissioner, Felix Klein, however, point out that if no definitive motive can be found, an incident will automatically be ascribed to the far-right in the statistics.

"There is evidence we have to take seriously that that is not accurate and that Muslim-motivated anti-Semitism is far higher," Klein said in May.

Critics, however, point out that the problem is not as severe as it may look, as statistics do not show a major rise in anti-Semitic attacks. In 2017, there were 1,504 registered cases — a 2.5 percent rise compared with the year before.

German President Steinmeier warns of anti-Semitism


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