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Jewish student in Berlin bullied for months

June 27, 2018

The student was harassed with taunts about gas chambers and pictures of swastikas. The John F. Kennedy school has apologized for not taking the incidents seriously enough when they were first reported.

Deutschland - Jüdischer Schüler gemobbt
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/D. Bockwoldt

A Jewish high school student at Berlin's prestigious John F. Kennedy School was bullied for months with anti-Semitic taunting, local media reported on Wednesday.

"At the beginning of June, school management became aware of anti-Semitic bullying," read a statement from the school. "The incidents occurred in the ninth grade and were initially misunderstood in magnitude and seriousness."

Read more: Anti-Semitism on rise in Berlin schools, says US Jewish group

According to the Berliner Zeitung newspaper, which broke the story, the student was verbally harassed on his way to and from school. Classmates blew cigarette smoke in his face, and told him he should think of his ancestors who died in Nazi gas chambers. He was also reportedly teased about his weight.

Other students allegedly taunted him by leaving notes on his desk that depicted a swastika. He was even taunted for not being a "good Jew," because at times in school debates he disagreed with some of the actions of the Israeli government towards Palestinians.

While there has been concern in recent months about anti-Semitic bullying from Muslim students in Berlin, the John F. Kennedy school that this wasn't the case for these incidents. The school, which is partially funded and administered by the US embassy, mostly caters to the children of diplomats.

The school announced tightened security measures, as well as meetings between school officials and the individual students concerns. The coming year's curriculum will also involve topics like discrimination, the school said. They have also invited the Jewish Forum for Democracy to visit.

Jews and Muslims rally to highlight fight against anti-Semitism and Islamophobia

Elizabeth Schumacher
Elizabeth Schumacher Elizabeth Schumacher reports on gender equity, immigration, poverty and education in Germany.