'Jew' used as a term of playground abuse

Community leaders have raised concerns about a rise in non-Jewish schoolchildren as young as eight using the word "Jew" to insult each other.

Education workers have criticised schools for not tackling the abusive behaviour in the same way as other
racism.

One Jewish secondary school English teacher, who asked not to be named, said he had seen many cases of antisemitism in schools throughout London. He had witnessed pupils calling each other 'f---ing Jew' on a weekly basis in one north London school.

"I overheard some students saying that Jews would be the first and the quickest to go to hell," he said. "I was personally called a 'f---ing Jew', sometimes openly in class, at other times through written notes, and at times when I was alone in the corridor.

"I know that one Jewish teacher had a swastika drawn on her door. And at least two other teachers in different schools received hateful notes and drawings depicting Jews as devils.

"Sometimes these incidents were dealt with, sometimes they were not.

"The head of one school did make a call in the staffroom for teachers to pull up and note down antisemitic behaviour, but this was only done after complaints by members of staff.

"Racism against Jews is not taken as seriously as racism towards other groups."

A playworker in Somerset has complained about the "blatant antisemitism" she has heard from young schoolchildren.

Tamara Pollard, who works for a major children's charity, said: "I work in a mainly white area with virtually zero Jews.

"A few weeks ago a group of kids, aged about eight or nine were shouting antisemitic insults. They were calling each other "tight Jew". I asked the ringleader if he knew any Jews and he said he didn't, so he looked pretty stupid in front of his friends and I thought that was the best way to deal with it.

"Last week I heard children aged between nine and 11 saying 'scabby Jew' and 'f---ing Jew'. I was shocked to hear that kind of blatant antisemitism in the playground. I'm worried this is below the radar."

The Community Security Trust has held a meeting with the Department for Education on the issue. Last year, the CST reported 58 antisemitic incidents targeting Jewish schools, schoolchildren or teachers, but it does not report incidents among non-Jewish children.

CST's Dave Rich said: "Children using the word 'Jew' as a term of abuse in the playground has been reported to us more and more in the last few months.

"Non-Jewish schoolchildren using it among themselves is a new problem.

"We are trying to get a sense of the scale of the problem and ways in which it can be addressed. "

Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies, said: "We are compiling a response to a DoE consultation on behaviour and discipline in schools. We will raise our concerns about this problem so that schools and teachers are better equipped to tackle any incidents of antisemitism."

    Last updated: 3:39pm, May 12 2011