Anti-Semitism in German schoolsHow can teachers counter hostility towards Jews in the classroom?

Since the terrorist attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, there have been increasing reports of anti-Semitic attacks worldwide. There are also repeated incidents of anti-Semitism in German schools. Many teachers feel overwhelmed by this. What is still considered freedom of expression? What is a punishable statement? And how do pupils react when, for example, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories are brought up in class? To mark the 85th anniversary of the Reichspogromnacht, klicksafe has compiled resources to help teachers deal with anti-Semitism at school.

According to a recent press release from OFEK e.V. - Beratungsstelle bei antisemitischer Gewalt und Diskriminierung, attacks on Jews in Germany are on the rise. In the 30 days following the terrorist attack on October 7, 2023, more requests for advice were received than in the entire previous year. Around 200 of these inquiries related to "(...) anti-Semitic incidents experienced at schools and universities, in the neighborhood, on public transport, in the workplace, in the healthcare sector and at demonstrations."

Due to the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel on October 7 and the worldwide reactions to it, the debate on anti-Semitism is currently focusing primarily on people of Arab, Turkish and Muslim origin. However, anti-Semitism is also a persistent problem in Germany, regardless of the current resurgence of the Middle East conflict. This is made clear, for example, by the Amadeu Antonio Foundation's current publication "Civil Society Anti-Semitism Situation Report #12". It documents the continuous attacks by the extreme right on the German culture of remembrance. The Amadeu Antonio Foundation's website states:

At the moment, the role of the extreme right is hardly being discussed because the focus is - for good reason - on the Islamist and left-wing groups that glorify Hamas terror and create a basis for further anti-Semitic incidents in Germany. In the slipstream of the glorification of terror, the far right continues its attacks on remembrance. At the Ahlem memorial in Hanover (Lower Saxony), several memorial plaques were covered with stickers at the end of October. In addition to "Free yourself from the cult of guilt", there was a sticker with a Palestine flag and the words "Free Palestine End Israeli Occupation". A sticker from the neo-Nazi group Junge Nationalisten showed a bloody Israel flag with the slogan "Israel murders and the world watches".

Dealing with and raising awareness of hatred towards Jews will therefore remain an ongoing task in schools and will not lose importance in the coming years. We have collected some teaching materials for you here to help you deal with the topic at school.

Materials for the classroom

Dealing with anti-Semitism in elementary school (Anne Frank Center)

The Anne Frank Zentrum, together with the Berlin Senate Department for Education, Youth and Family, has produced a handout for elementary school. The handout provides brief background information and many practical tips on the topics of Jewish life today, anti-Semitic prejudice and discrimination as well as the Holocaust. The handout and supplementary materials and methods are available to download free of charge.

Recognizing and countering anti-Semitism (Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg)

The e-paper "Recognizing and countering anti-Semitism" provides background knowledge on anti-Semitism and impulses for taking a stand against anti-Semitic stereotypes. It contains specialist articles, recommendations for lessons, media tips and descriptions of projects and initiatives. The recommendations for teaching are divided into recommendations for elementary school and for lower and upper secondary schools. The e-paper can be downloaded free of charge.

The Middle East conflict in schools (Forum Ziviler Friedensdienst e. V.)

The forumZFD offers two materials for dealing with the Middle East conflict in schools. The publication "Children and young people for peace and understanding. Learning peace using the example of the Middle East conflict." is suitable for grades 3-6 or for children aged 8-12. In four teaching units, the pupils gain an insight into the reality of life for Arab and Jewish children and young people from Jerusalem and Haifa. The teaching unit "Learning non-violence in an environment of violence" makes suggestions for dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at all age levels. The descriptions of teaching units 1 to 6 are followed by the corresponding worksheets. Both publications are available for free download on the website of forumZFD.

Talking about Israel and Palestine. The Middle East conflict in educational work (Ufuq e. V.)

The work aid "Talking about Israel and Palestine. The Middle East conflict in educational work" supports teachers in dealing with the Middle East conflict in lessons and everyday school life. The first chapter contains references to exercises and teaching modules from various publishers that deal with specific facets of the Middle East conflict. The second chapter is dedicated to situations that cannot be planned. For example, when a statement is made in class that is perceived as provocative or problematic.
Under the title "Solidarity against terror", Ufuq e. V. also provides suggestions for a lesson on the current situation in Israel and Palestine.