Antisemitism in Berkeley schools? No surprise there …

Antisemitism in Berkeley schools? No surprise there …

Antisemitism in Berkeley schools? No surprise there …

Two Jewish organizations have filed a federal complaint against a California public school district for "severe and persistent" antisemitic bullying.

The Brandeis Center for Human Rights and the Anti-Defamation League have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education because of the egregious bullying of Jewish students in Berkeley. According to the Center, administrator with the Berkeley Unified School District have completely ignored an avalanche of parental complaints.

The Center and ADL report specifically:

"Incidents include students repeatedly hearing antisemitic comments in classrooms and hallways, such as 'kill the Jews,' non-Jewish students asking Jewish students what 'their number is,' referring to numbers tattooed on Jews during the Holocaust, and Jewish students being derided for their physical appearance and demonized as evil.

"Students have also had to endure antisemitic teacher rants and class activities, teacher-promoted 'walkouts' that praise Hamas, and even a second-grade teacher leading a classroom activity where children were writing 'Stop Bombing Babies' on sticky notes to display in the building."

Lerman, Rachel (Brandeis Center) Lerman

Rachel Lerman, general counsel with the Brandeis Center, tells AFN that the district began receiving calls on October 8, the day after Hamas attacked Israel. "And the parents talked to the school and nothing happened. So, the school promised to investigate a couple of things, but it never did – and we felt it was time for us to involve the [DOE's] Office of Civil Rights," she shares.

Lerman adds this is probably the result of just a handful of teachers – and that the groups are not seeking damages but, instead, are trying to rectify the situation.

"It's about improving things," she adds, "and often, going through the Office of Civil Rights is quicker – not always – but often quicker than court litigation."

Zachary Marschall, PhD is editor in chief for Campus Reform. He's not surprised by this report out of Berkeley.

Marschall, Zachary (Campus Reform) Marschall

"It's no coincidence that this is not only in California but also in Berkeley," he tells AFN. "This is happening at the same time that we saw students at UC-Berkeley protest a Jewish event on campus and yell 'dirty Jew' at their classmates."

According to Marschall, California – for quite some time – has been "the center of antisemitism" in the U.S. "The ideas we're seeing [declared] at K-12 and higher education just shows those ideas are coming from professors and institutions in California," he concludes.

Brandeis Center chairman Kenneth Marcus laments: "To see teachers inciting hate in the youngest of grades while Berkeley administrators sit idly by is reprehensible."