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More Anti-Semitism at Bay Area Schools

I noted the growing issues with anti-Semitism at public schools in the infamously left-wing California Bay Area a few months back and recent examples continue to bubble to the surface. According to Algemeiner, the Alameda School District has routinely ignored anti-Semitic language directed at Jewish students.

In Alameda, California, middle and elementary schools have been defaced with swastikas and a Jewish elementary school student reportedly received a death threat. Under pressure from the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and the parents of Natasha Waldorf — who received multiple antisemitic threats at Alameda High School — Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) officials are finally admitting that antisemitism is a problem and that they’ve made mistakes in how they’ve responded to it. But they are still not doing what’s needed.

The AUSD must implement a prevention, protection and proscription plan. Prevention means educating students and families about antisemitism and making it clear that harassing Jewish students won’t be tolerated. Protection means adequately training staff to recognize, stop and report antisemitism. Proscription means effectively responding to antisemitism, including by publicly condemning it, appropriately disciplining wrongdoers, and ensuring that targeted students are protected.

I agree with the author and the parents complaining to the school district: more has to be done to educate the community about the ways current anti-Semitism is employed. The meme culture that has allowed the alt-right to cultivate influence and build its ranks was often done using language and visuals older members of the community might not recognize as instantly anti-Semitic in nature.

Having said that, the piece also mentions students pronouncing things like “Hitler should have finished the job,” which seems like an easy piece of anti-Semitism to pick up on. As a teacher, I have seen many anemic administrators more interested in covering up existing problems than addressing them in the open. It makes a leader and school look bad to report every negative social instance and they understandable hope to “fix” problems internally rather than having outside observers or press involved.

However, I find it hard to believe that a teacher would hear students calling for the extermination of their classmates and not immediately act to address and report it to a superior. With many school-related complaints, what amounts to “teachers did nothing about it” was in reality “I was not content with the actions taken by the teacher.” If an educator, entrusted to make a safe learning environment for all students, did look away at such a blatant act of anti-Semitism, I hope they are forced out of the profession quickly and with haste. One hopes the student’s family bringing the complaint against the school district was simply exercising hyperbole.

Having said that, these types of incidents are increasingly common and our state needs to confront this trend. With Jews bearing the brunt of hate crimes in the United States (54% in 2016, despite being only 2% of the population), it is of the utmost importance that schools combat anti-Semitism in whatever form it takes.