According to the most recent report by the UK’s Community Security Trust, 2021 saw a 34-percent increase in hate crimes against Jews, yielding the highest number of cases ever recorded. Jake Wallis Simons reports on how the trend has reached the highly ranked public school in his genteel neighborhood:
A few months ago, a boy picked up his books and declared, “I’m not sitting next to the Jewish girl,” before moving to another seat. When she told me about it, my daughter, who is fourteen, said the kid had just been seeking attention. It was a one-off, she said. She didn’t want me to contact the school. So I decided to let it go; the lesson for her, perhaps, was that this stuff happens in life.
These days, apparently, a favorite school trick is to ask my twelve-year-old son if he’s “a Jew.” When he nods, the kids reply, “Heil Hitler.” It happens about three times a week, my son told me. Sometimes they simply ask, “is your sister a Jew?” and laugh. Or they hoot, “Jew, Jew, Jew,” when they see my kids in the corridor.
The school has a problem with swastikas. People think it’s funny to scratch them into tables and walls, and the teachers don’t do anything about it. There was a craze recently to draw a swastika on your hand in chalk and slap somebody on the back, so the imprint is left on their blazer.
When speaking to my son, I asked him if the kids behaved this way towards other minorities at school. Black children, for example. His eyes widened. “Of course not,” he said, a note of irony in his voice. “That would be racist.”