Anti-Semitism Is ‘Recurrent Problem’ in Netherlands Schools, Government Report Says
Findings appear in 55-page report titled ‘Two Worlds, Two Realities – How Do You Deal with It as a Teacher,’ published last week by the Dutch-Jewish journalist Margalith Kleijwegt.
JTA Feb 08, 2016 5:59 PM
Anti-Semitism is a persistent problem in some Dutch schools and especially among Muslim pupils, according to a new government-commissioned report on discrimination in education.
The findings appeared in a 55-page report titled “Two Worlds, Two Realities – How Do You Deal with It as a Teacher,” which was published last week by the Dutch-Jewish journalist Margalith Kleijwegt at the request of the Dutch Ministry of Education.
The report, which is based on visits to schools and conversations with dozens of teachers since January 2015, say teachers sometimes feel powerless to change the deep-seated biases and violent attitudes of some pupils, including against Jews.
Anti-Semitic behavior is a recurring problem in some schools. One person considers it to be a provocation, another is afraid it goes deeper, that pupils get their anti-Jewish feelings from home. The same applies to the growing group of Dutch students who shout that all foreigners should go back where they came from. Is that provocation? Do they get that from home?
Current events are increasingly making themselves felt in schools. Since the flow of refugees got well under way, more and more teachers are hearing xenophobic sounds. Anti-Semitic incidents occur more often when tensions rise in the Middle East.
A social studies teacher at a technical college in Amsterdam had barely started the lesson on discrimination when a student with a Moroccan background stood up, pretended she was holding a weapon and started shooting everyone around her, calling out in a loud voice: “If I had a Kalashnikov, I would shoot all the Jews.”
The teacher was shocked, she wanted to put an end to this abuse immediately. She tried to point out to the girl that Jews and immigrants have much in common. That this tirade wouldn’t help anybody. “But I couldn’t get through to her. I asked her to imagine that she was a five-year old Jewish girl who lived here. What does such a child have to do with the politics of Israel? Unfortunately, there was no place for empathy. That little girl did not interest her, she had just one message: that Jews had to die.” The student got more classmates involved in her tirade, she also attacked Turkish and non-Muslim students. “Wow, that was heavy. The Surinamese students kept their mouths shut, no idea why. At the end of the lesson, I was taken aside by the angry student. She had calmed down by then and hoped that I would be OK. “I’ll give you that,” she said well-meaningly. I thought her reaction was striking, she seemed so convinced that she was right. Some girls are covering themselves up more and more, perhaps that is the influence of IS, I don’t know. But such behavior worries me. Here there are also girls who won’t shake a man’s hand, I speak to them about it, ask them what their priorities are, how they are going to manage that in future if they want to work. Sometimes I manage to get through to them, but not always. They are vulnerable, impressionable. Whether it’s ‘loverboys’ that attract them or IS followers, these girls feel they have nothing to lose.” Just as in other programs, a lack of confidence in the future also plays a role here, the feeling of “I’ll never be offered a job anywhere anyway.” “They are not resilient.”
“You have to have their trust, otherwise it doesn’t work.”
The teacher knows that some of her colleagues are afraid to teach students with such big mouths. They don’t even consider broaching complex issues, they avoid them. “You have to have their trust, otherwise it doesn’t work. “
She regrets that there are still so few foreigners to be found in the school and course management. It doesn’t solve everything, but it would be better because they understand the students better. A colleague from a higher technical college with a Moroccan background endorses her comments. “We need to give these students more attention,” she says. Warning: “A lot of our students don’t feel at home here, that feeling will only get stronger. “