Jewish parents pull son from Berlin school over anti-Semitic harassment


(JTA) — Allegations of anti-Semitic harassment of a Jewish student in Germany that forced him to leave his school has spurred demands for a federal investigation by Germany’s top Jewish leader.

The student’s parents said they pulled their 14-year-old son from the Friedenauer Community School in March after four months of verbal and physical harassment, culminating in a brutal attack. The parents had chosen the school because of its multicultural student body, and the harassment came from students of Arab and Turkish background, they reported.

In March, according to the parents, “he was attacked and almost strangled, and [one of the pupils] pulled a toy gun on him that looked like a real gun. And the whole crowd of kids laughed. He was completely shaken.”

Early on, when some pupils learned the boy was Jewish, one who had been friendly told him they couldn’t be friends anymore because “Jews are all murderers.”

Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, demanded on Monday that the education ministry investigate the incident and the response of the school, and state clearly where any failings might be. He also asked Muslim leaders in Germany to combat “anti-Semitic tendencies in their ranks with all the determination they can muster.”

The school leadership said on its website that the alleged perpetrators in the incident would be held accountable. Principal Uwe Runkel told the London Jewish Chronicle that he “deeply regrets” the incidents and wishes the student had not left the school.

The boy told the newspaper that the latest incident was shocking, “but I didn’t have time to think what’s happening at the time. Now when I look back, I think, oh my God.”

His parents had contacted an organization that brings Jews and Muslims into public schools, and the father’s parents, who are Holocaust survivors, had met with pupils at the school. None of this helped improve the atmosphere, they said.

The boy, whose mother is British, has been enrolled in an English-language high school.

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