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‘They’re Not Going to Stop’: Mom Fears for Her Jewish Son as District Grapples with Wave of Antisemitic Incidents

Harry Engels/Getty Images
Harry Engels/Getty Images

By: Kate Anderson, Daily Caller News Foundation

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) in Maryland has been gaining significant media attention from a rash of antisemitic incidents at its schools in the last week, but the mother of a student told the Daily Caller News Foundation the behavior has been going on for months.

In response to nine acts of antisemitism in just the last week, MCPS will be implementing new protocols and programs in an attempt to stop the incidents, according to a statement from the district to the DCNF. One mother of a fifth-grade Jewish student told the DNCF that the school’s response did not give her hope that the atmosphere would change when the incidents had been going on for much longer than just the past week and several had involved her son.

“A kid took his kippa, or yarmulke, off his head and proceeded to throw it around the playground,” the mother, who asked to remain anonymous due to potential retaliation, said. “He’s received death comments for being who he is. He’s 10, this shouldn’t be something that he has to live in fear of.”

The mom said in the last few weeks her son has taken to “hiding any outward displays that he’s Jewish” by wearing a baseball hat over his yarmulke cap to prevent bullying and has told his parents that he is worried for his younger brother having to face the same situations on his own next year.

At one point another female student allegedly told her son to “kill himself” because she “hates Jews,” but when the comments were reported to the school, the female student claimed that she had only said she “hated Israel” because the Jewish student had been wearing a shirt with the flag of Israel on it. The mother told the DCNF that her son had been reprimanded for “talking about politics” at school and nothing was done about the female student’s comments.

He also told his parents that he is “very scared” about what could happen to him and his mother told the DCNF that as a parent that was not easy to hear.

“He doesn’t walk around being obviously Jewish because he is scared that something is going to happen to him,” the student’s mother explained. “I think there has been, every day for the past two months, some kind of antisemitic incident in the public schools. I wish I could homeschool him, but I just can’t.”

Reports indicated that students have drawn swastikas on school property and allegedly some students at Walt Whitman High School had made comments about burning Jewish people on their debate team at the stake, according to the Washington Post.

MCPS told the DCNF that the district was introducing several programs and educational opportunities to help students and parents understand how to combat antisemitism.

“MCPS is partnering with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to bring training for staff on how to address antisemitic acts,” MCPS spokesperson Jessica Baxter said. “We will be holding parent forums on understanding the rise of antisemitism and the role popular culture plays in hate speech. At the student level, we are planning after-school programs and partnering with Montgomery College on learning activities to hear directly from a Holocaust survivor and explore the role social media plays in hate speech, as well as teaching students how to be upstanders.”

Additionally, Baxter said the school is implementing a new policy requiring a note to be put in a student’s file if they participate in antisemitic behavior.

“Related to consequences, students who commit hateful acts now will have them documented in their permanent school file,” Baxter said. “Parents will also be required to be brought in to address the hurtful acts the student has committed.”

While the mother who spoke to the DCNF said she was grateful that something was finally being addressed, she is not optimistic about her son being treated any better.

“They’re not going to stop, and [the school] will continue allowing it … because they don’t care,” the student’s mother said. “There was a zoom call with the county and JCRC and the ADL but in my opinion, that’s just to try and keep [parents] passive and not standing up.”

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