Students at a Florida school have been suspended for participating in ‘Kick a Jew’ Day.
Ten pupils at North Naples Middle School were suspended for a day, after a female student told the school’s head that she believed she had been kicked as part of ‘Kick a Jew Day’.
Local expressed concerns that the students may have been inspired by TV show South Park where an episode featured ‘Kick a Ginger Day’. The attacks are believed to have been co-ordinated via a Facebook group.
A tough anti-bullying law was passed in Florida last year, which will mean that schools that fail to do enough to stop bullying may lose state funding.
The school’s headteacher Margaret Jackson held an emergency assembly after the incident, stressing the need for respect and tolerance. The students will spend the first 20 minutes of every school day focusing on bullying and different character traits.
David Barkey, of the Florida Anti-Defamation League, said they had been consulted over the incident.
He said: “You are talking about an incident that has anti-Jewish bias if not antisemitism. You have Jewish students being singled out, harassed and assaulted.
“If the allegations are true, it is possible these students violated Florida’s new anti-bullying law. And, if students were physically assaulted, it could rise to the level of criminal conduct.”
Rabbi James Perman, of Temple Shalom in North Naples, commented: “I haven’t seen anything like it in my 17 years in Naples. No child deserves this kind of treatment. Their parents are understandably outraged.
“So far it seems that the school system has taken appropriate measures and we applaud their efforts. At this point, teaching sensitive awareness is more important than punishing anyone.”
“Beyond that, there are critical issues for the entire Jewish community and beyond. These are not new issues for us here in Naples. These ten kids did not invent antisemitism. They found a sympathetic response that was already there on some level.”
In October last year, four students were suspended from a St Louis’ high school for participating in ‘Hit a Jew Day’, where one Jewish student at Parkway West Middle School in Chesterfield was hit in the face.