After a 14-year-old British Jewish boy switched schools in Berlin claiming he had been violently bullied by Muslim classmates, pressure is growing on the government to react.
The teenager’s parents told the Jewish Chronicle in late March that they had taken him out of the Friedenauer Gemeinschaftsschule in Schöneberg and sent him to an international school instead.
The family had picked the school, which has many pupils from Turkey and the Arab world, after they had read that it was a model multicultural high school.
But according to the family, when the teenager’s classmates found out he was Jewish, they became abusive, with one saying “Jews are all murderers”.
The abuse then became violent, with classmates attacking and strangling the teenager. One even pulled a replica gun on him while the other kids laughed, the boy’s mother claimed.
Aaron Eckstaedt, principal of the Moses Mendelssohn Jewish High School in Berlin, told the Jewish Chronicle that six to ten Jewish parents apply to switch their children to his school every year.
The requests are generally “in reaction to anti-Semitic statements coming overwhelmingly from Arabic or Turkish classmates,” he said.
On Monday Josef Schuster the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany told Tagesspiegel that “if the report is true, it is deeply shocking. This is anti-Semitism of the ugliest form.”
Schuster called on Berlin’s education authorities to carry out an investigation of the case, after the teenager’s parents complained that the school had been slow to react to their repeated calls for intervention.
Muslim communities “must also actively fight anti-Semitism among their ranks. It can’t be accepted that hatred of Jews and Israel can be promoted in German mosques,” said Schuster.
The sensitivity of the case, given Germany’s particular history with anti-Semitism, has meant that politicians on the national level have also called for consequences.
“Teenagers from Arab countries who have been raised to believe that Israel should be destroyed need to learn that we don’t tolerate anti-Semitism in Germany,” said Kerstin Griese, the federal commissioner for religious communities.
“These cases are becoming ever more common, and not only in Berlin,” Levi Salomon, a spokesperson for the Jewish Democracy Forum told Tagesspiegel.
“It is high time the federal government set up a commission for anti-Semitism.”