It has been four days since Hamas launched a major attack on Israel. The war has long had an impact on social life in Germany. Specifically: on our schools.
On Monday there was a violent confrontation at a Neukölln high school. Again “rbb” Reportedly, a 14-year-old student showed up to class wrapped in a Palestine flag.
A 61-year-old teacher wanted to ban him from wearing political symbols. A scuffle broke out. A 15-year-old is said to have attacked the teacher, who in turn slapped him in the face, according to “rbb”. Eventually the police had to arrive and teachers and students were suspended from class.
“The phones are ringing hot”
The high school is busy dealing with the incidents. Since Tuesday, the Neukölln high school has been guarded by security staff to ensure that no people from outside the school break in.
There is also a high potential for conflict in other schools. Desirée Galert, project manager at the Kreuzberg Initiative against Anti-Semitism, sees this firsthand. Together with her colleagues, she advises teachers and mediates among students. Since the Hamas attack, her work has multiplied, she said the “rbb”.
“The phones are ringing hotly, we are getting emails from all sides, requests for personal conversations. I’m actually constantly trying to answer them and calm them down. There’s a lot of emotion and chaos at times.”
Teachers from all over Berlin are reporting
Teachers from all over Berlin would contact her. Because students cheer for Hamas, make anti-Semitic comments or violent clashes like the one in Neukölln break out.
According to Galert, there is no easy way to deal with the problem. “We have to look: Where are the emotions right now and how do we get the situation under control? “Does reprimanding really help at that moment or is it more helpful to vent things out and create opportunities for the students to talk?” says the project manager.
Dervis Hizarci, chairman of the KIgA and a former teacher himself, told the “rbb” that children and young people must be treated as equals. It is important to ask them how they experienced the weekend and to explain to them who Hamas is and what war and terror actually mean.
At the same time he is alarmed. Hizarci believes the situation in schools could continue to deteriorate. “As soon as Israel starts the offensive, we will see that a new wave of emotions will come our way,” he told the “rbb”.
Problem: a lot of Arabic television and Arabic internet channels
But the problems are not entirely new. According to Neukölln district mayor Martin Hikel (SPD), the Middle East conflict has been making teaching difficult in some schools for a long time.
This is primarily about students who consume a lot of Arabic television and Arabic Internet channels in their families, he explained to the rbb station “Radio Eins”.
Berlin’s anti-Semitism commissioner Samuel Salzborn knows what consequences this can have. “We keep hearing that parents of Jewish children are deregistering them from state schools and enrolling them in Jewish schools,” he told the German Press Agency. In such cases, the Senate Education Administration tries to help those affected in an unbureaucratic manner and to enable them to change schools.
In connection with the Middle East conflict, including the recent attack by the terrorist organization Hamas on Israel with many deaths, the situation in schools is escalating again and again, according to Salzborn. “But the resentment against Jews and Israel is also there on the other days.”
“No tolerance for the intolerant”
Salzborn therefore calls for anti-Semitism to be anchored as a permanent topic in school lessons. You have to make adjustments in subjects like ethics or social studies, he said.
Meanwhile, Justice Senator Badenberg admitted that many people in Berlin had the feeling that “the previous political leaders condemned anti-Semitism, particularly of people of Arab origin, harshly, but this harshness was not always reflected in the subsequent measures.”
She encouraged the public prosecutor’s office to “pursue such acts as a priority”. “Justiciable hate speech and acts of violence with an anti-Semitic background must, wherever possible, be identified promptly and then heard publicly. The rule must be: no tolerance for the intolerant.”