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Middle and High Schools Worldwide See Spate of Antisemitic Incidents Since Start of Academic Year

Antisemitic and racist graffiti is seen drawn on a wall in a bathroom at Winter Haven High School, in Winter Haven, Florida.

November 1, 2021

In recent months, the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) Information Hub has detected and monitored a new concerning trend — a rise in Jew-hatred incidents at middle and high schools across the globe.

This perhaps should not come as a surprise, given the general worldwide surge of antisemitism witnessed in the past year, which peaked during the flare-up of Israel-Gaza violence in May, but it nevertheless requires the immediate attention of school officials and local authorities.

And while the problem of antisemitism on college campuses makes headlines from time to time, the bigotry younger students must cope with usually flies under the radar.

In the short time since the current school year began, when many students returned to in-person learning after the Covid-19 pandemic forced them to study at home the previous year, CAM has recorded 15 incidents of middle and high school-related antisemitism, largely in the United States and Canada.

In Chatham, Ontario, in mid-August, the Queen Elizabeth II Public School was defaced with a Nazi swastika and violent message. The same week, in Germantown, Tennessee, an assistant principal and teacher were placed under investigation for antisemitic social media posts comparing Covid-19 vaccines to the Holocaust.

In Johannesburg, South Africa, bodybuilder and TikTok star Noel Deyzel was deluged with hateful messages online after he spoke at Yeshiva College Boys High School in late August.

In Florida, police launched an investigation after a swastika and racist words were found in a Winter Park High School bathroom, and a similar incident at Duxbury Middle School in Massachusetts was blamed on a viral TikTok trend. Meanwhile, swastika graffiti etched on a desk at Glen Rock, New Jersey, drew condemnation from local leaders, including Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5).

A mid-September school board meeting in Worthington, Ohio, was marred by an antisemitism gesture made by a member of the crowd. In Georgia’s Cobb County, near Atlanta, the school board adopted a resolution against antisemitism and racism after swastikas were discovered on bathroom walls at two high schools.

Antisemitic graffiti is seen in a bathroom at Pope High School, in Marietta, Georgia.

 

In Chico, California, a 13-year-old boy was arrested by police after a private school was vandalized with swastikas. And in North Bay, Ontario, a video of École Secondaire Catholique Algonquin eighth-grade students flashing Nazi salutes and shouting “Heil Hitler,” among other antisemitic slurs, prompted hate crime investigation by law enforcement.

A screenshot from the video of the incident at École Secondaire Catholique Algonquin, in North Bay, Ontario.

 

The month of October saw an additional spate of incidents, including a swastika drawn at a middle school in Darien, Connecticut; razor blades left hidden under swastika stickers near a school in Dunton Green, England; antisemitic graffiti scrawled at two Denver-area high schools in Colorado; and antisemitic slogans and symbols spray-painted at an Anderson High School student parking lot in Austin, Texas.

Schools are supposed to be safe havens where children can learn without facing physical threats, verbal harassment, and other forms of discrimination, and urgent action is needed to make this the reality for young Jews around the world.

Tolerance training must include lessons about the history of antisemitism and how to identify its contemporary manifestations, with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism serving as an important tool. And Holocaust education is key to ensuring students understand the danger of unchecked Jew-hatred.

The CAM Information Hub will continue tracking this alarming phenomenon closely as the school year progresses, and further reports will be published as developments warrant.

Category:On Campus