A new report by the City of Malmö details the antisemitism and discrimination faced by the city’s school-age pupils.
The report, entitled “Schoolyard racism, conspiracy theories and exclusion,” was authored by Mirjam Katzin, the city’s coordinator on combatting antisemitism, and details the experiences of young Jews and their teachers in Malmö’s school system.
The report, a collaboration between the municipality and the Jewish community of Malmö, argues that there is “a structural problem also in Malmö’s schools in terms of the skills and conditions to address issues of antisemitism.”
A key issue, which recurs in interviews with both school staff and students, is the use of the word “Jew” in derogatory terms and jokes at the expense of Jews or about the Holocaust.
“Jokes are what you encounter. It’s everything from ‘stingy Jew’ to ‘I’ll gas you’. I have had friends who also joked about it, and it actually feels terrible that they take such liberties and what you do then is to normalise racist language. There is an active ignorance in those jokes,” one of the 14 Jewish pupils interviewed for the report said.
Direct expressions of antisemitism in the context of the State of Israel and the conflict in the Middle East are very much present in schools, which results in verbal and physical attacks against Jewish pupils.
“Jews stay away from certain schools, because they do not feel safe there. There is such a thing as lists of schools that are okay for Jews and those that are not. In fact, in the case of high schools, most of them are blacklisted. You know with Israel/Palestine, you know that you will get sh*t at those schools, and that’s too bad,” another student said.
In addition to the pupils, 26 teachers were also interviewed. They argue that they “lack the knowledge and ability to tackle antisemitism in the classroom”. During these interviews, teachers “noted specific incidents concerning antisemitic jargon heard among staff.”
According to Katzin, the report should be “a knowledge base for how we should work with these issues in schools.”
“Now we have it in black and white that antisemitism is widespread in schools”, said Sara Wettergren, chair of the city’s Compulsory Education committee.
“I think that all students should feel safe in Malmö’s schools and be comfortable with their identity. Of course, we want Malmö to be a city that Jewish families move to, and not from”, Wettergren added.