Jewish teen leaves German public high school over classroom anti-Semitism

Meanwhile, Central Council of Jews in Germany praises Justice Ministry for announcing crimes with anti-Semitic motivation will be punished at higher level

Illustrative: A classroom in a primary school in Germany. (Wikipedia/Martin Kraft/CC BY)
Illustrative: A classroom in a primary school in Germany. (Wikipedia/Martin Kraft/CC BY)

BERLIN, Germany (JTA) — A Jewish parent in the German city of Offenbach near Frankfurt is reportedly removing her son from public high school due to frequent anti-Semitic comments in the classroom, though her son is not personally targeted by them.

It is the atmosphere in the school that led Alina R. to make the move. She told German news media that teachers and administrators had failed to react to anti-Semitic comments thrown casually around the classroom. Comments such as “It’s as hot and humid as Auschwitz in here,” or “you Jew” as an insult are common, she said, noting that her own son’s Jewish identity is not public.

Her son, 16, is transferring to a private school where, his mother said, such problems are less common since the private school takes greater care to call out and punish such behavior.

According to German news reports, Alina R. had encouraged her son to speak with a teacher about the problem. The teacher did not take any action, she said.

Meanwhile, the Central Council of Jews in Germany is pleased with news from the Federal Ministry of Justice that crimes with an anti-Semitic motivation are set to be punished at a higher level.

Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht announced her planned amendment to the law Thursday, saying that she was “ashamed of the fact that Jews in Germany no longer feel safe, that even many think about leaving the country.” She expects the parliament to pass the change by the end of the year.

Josef Schuster, Central Council head, called it an “important step… Anti-Semitic motivations must be considered separately and as aggravating circumstances in the sentencing.”

Schuster had argued for the inclusion of “anti-Semitism” in the list of motivations drawing a harsher punishment. The list currently includes racist, xenophobic or other inhumane motivations.

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