A recent report has documented a rise of anti-Semitism in the schools of Malmö, Sweden’s third-largest city. What it considers remarkable is that the hatred of Jewish students mainly comes from their peers from the Middle East.
The report, called “Schoolyard racism, conspiracy theories and exclusion” based on interviews and questionnaires, noted anti-Semitic attitudes not only from Arab students with links to Palestinian territories, but also pupils with roots in the Middle East in general and even school staff.
“A couple of the informants also related specific stories about anti-Semitic jargon used by the staff group,” the report’s author Mirjam Katzin, a researcher at Lund University and an elected representative of the Left Party in Malmö, wrote.
The report indicated a “a widespread tolerance for anti-Semitic expressions”, including the word “Jew” being used to denote a greedy and egoistic person, alongside numerous slurs.
“A key problem, which recurs in interviews with both school staff and students, is the use of the word ‘Jew’ in derogatory terms and jokes at the expense of Jews or about the Holocaust,” the report said, noting the popularity of swastikas and Adolf Hitler among Arab students.
Among others, local Jews are being held responsible for Israeli policy in the Israel-Palestine conflict, which reportedly plays a key role in today’s anti-Semitism.
“The times when it gets extra uneasy in Israel/Palestine, then we notice this too. It affects emotionally, of course, as many have relatives and family and so on in the area and then the conflict stirs up emotions. And they have an extremely difficult time separating Israel and Jews. So a Jew in Malmö is the enemy. All Jews are the great enemy,” one of the teachers interviewed said.
According to the report, there is an informal list of schools within Malmö’s Jewish community where Jewish students cannot go.
“Jews stay away from certain schools because they don’t feel safe going there. There is a list of schools that are okay for Jews and those that are not. Actually, all high schools are blacklisted except a few, it’s just like that. You know that this with Israel/Palestine, you will get a lot of s**t for it at other schools, it’s such a shame that it should be like that,” one student said in the report.
“Anti-Semitism in Malmö is a real problem, with clear victims,” the report concluded.
At about 330,000 inhabitants, Malmö is often touted as Sweden’s most multicultural city. It is home to dozens of peoples from across the globe, including a burgeoning Middle-Eastern community, with Syria, Lebanon and Iran providing some of the largest diasporas.
Meanwhile, Malmö’s Jewish diaspora has shrunk dramatically over the past several decades and is facing extinction, the Jewish community warned in a letter to city hall. The Jewish community has dwindled to only 387 members from about 2,500 during its heyday in the 1970s amid reports of attacks, hate crimes and everyday anti-Semitism.