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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Anti-Semitism in Swedish Schools

Hat tip Kronans Martell


The below article appeared as an op-ed in Aftonbladet, one of Sweden's oldest and largest news outlets. It was sent to me by my friend, Kronans Martell in Sweden. I have translated it into English. This is written by a school teacher who teaches children from other countries, mostly Africa, and the Middle East. She has discovered that these children not only have a negative opinion of Jews, but very little to no knowledge of the Holocaust.

https://www.aftonbladet.se/debatt/a/0EREjJ/mina-nyanlanda-elever-tror-att-judar-ar-farliga

My Newly Arrived Students Think that Jews Are Dangerous

Teacher: We have a duty to do something about ignorance

This is a debate article. It is the writer who stands for the opinions expressed in the text, not Aftonbladet.

During more than four years in teaching newly-arrived (in Sweden) pupils, mostly from the Middle East, Afghanistan, Yemen, Ethiopia and Somalia, I have noticed a large ignorance  about Jews, the state of Israel, and the Holocaust.

This ignorance can lead to fear and in the worst case hate. Many pupils have become brainwashed  in their home countries that Jews are dangerous and that they should beware of them.

Comments such as "they are terrorists and we have a right to throw rocks at them", and that "they burn children alive" are some of the stories  that come up in discussions with pupils and during lectures in school.

During a series of lectures, we talked about the Nazis' genocide, and it was shown that none of our newly-arrived pupils knew about the Holocaust and its background, where over 6 million Jews were put to death.

The question over Jews and Israel is controversial, and we have had a hard time talking about the subject even though only 20,000 Jews live in Sweden, and they have protection as a Swedish minority.

Tolerance, co-existence, justice and love for fellow humans are born of knowledge, discussion, and analysis based on each person's right to freedom and to be able to feel safe in their society. Together we must punch through this darkness and this ignorance which can have terrible consequences for the Jews who live in Sweden and the rest of Europe-often behind armour, forced security, and not daring to even acknowledge their existence, religion, or their origin.

The numbers from the EU's Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) say it in its clear language. In the report, 16,000 Jews were queried in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and Great Britain. Countries where around 96% of Europe's  Jews reside.

About 90% of those queried say that anti-semitism is growing in their home countries, and as many as 75% say it is evident in the public space.

The kinds of harassment and anti-semitism revealed by FRA include, for example, destruction of Jewish burial sites, vandalism of Jewish buildings or institutions, and open hostility towards Jews.

The report also points out  that Sweden is one of the countries where the most are of the opinion that anti-semitism has increased. More that 8 out of 10 respondents in Belgium, France, Germany, Poland and Sweden believe that anti-semitism is a "very big" or "rather big" problem.

We can not betray the Jews through passivity and silence. Anti-semitism must be fought, and our responsibility for this must be clear-through enlightenment, knowledge by various authorities and in the school.

Those who attack Jews in Malmo and Gothenburg must be condemned  clearly, and political unity on the issue is required. Jewish and Muslim congregations need to continue to meet for cooperation. The forces for good must receive support.

More than four years (worth of) knowledge from my work with the newly-arrived has made me convinced that we must act. My pupils, for example, want to have all the information they can get about the Holocaust, Jews, and Israel in their native language.

They want to understand and they want to know so they can form their view based on knowledge from different sources. It doesn't work if the knowledge fails-first in their home countries and also here in Sweden.

It requires several conversations and discussions with our pupils  to create an understanding of the basis for the Holocaust even being possible and what mechanisms began the process. A single lecture that quickly disappears from memory is not sufficient.

We have a duty to dare to take on these issues even if difficult and thought of as controversial and politically "dangerous". It is so easy to end up in a discussion about right or wrong concerning Israel's policy, but the question is that people should be able to live side by side in Sweden and respect each other.

Otherwise, dark forces take over the empty space we leave behind.. Maybe 2019 will be the year that we take joint action against anti-semitism and its darkness-not just today on Holocaust Memorial Day but all other days of the year.


Annelie Danling Brash, head teacher for newly-arrived (pupils) and learning at Nyköping High School with help from Jonathan Brash, teacher, grades 4-6
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I applaud the article, but what is missing here is the fact that these children have learned their negative opinions of Jews in their homes and most likely from their religion. I suppose in politically correct Sweden, the writer couldn't go that far. I hope education in a Swedish school will turn their attitudes around, but I am sceptical. Their religion (Islam) teaches them a different message about Jews. Hopefully, some can be turned around.

I must also shake my head at Aftonbladet's disclaimer that this is an opinion piece and only reflects the opinions of the writer and not Aftonbladet. I am sure this disclaimer is routine when they publish an opinion piece, but my God-the optics are terrible. 

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