Discrimination is a persistent problem in secondary schools in the Netherlands, according to a study by Panteia into anti-Semitism on behalf of the Anne Frank House. 42 percent of secondary school teachers witnessed anti-Semitic incidents in the classroom in the past year. The problem is even bigger when it comes to anti-Islam and anti-LGBTQIA+ incidents, with 65 and 82 percent of teachers witnessing such discrimination, respectively. But those topics did not get in-depth study in this research into anti-Semitism.
According to the Anne Frank House, incidents of anti-Semitism were higher than in a similar study ten years ago, when 35 percent of teachers witnessed anti-Semitism, but lower than in 2004 (50 percent). Incidents mainly involved swearing and abusive language not directed at specific individuals.
Teachers noted many anti-Semitic incidents linked to professional football, often due to rivalries between clubs. Among football supporters, Ajax fans have the nickname “Jews.” Students with a Western background, in particular, are guilty of football-related anti-Semitism, the researchers found.
Tensions in the Middle East – the long-ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel – are also a significant breeding ground for anti-Semitic insults and expressions, the teachers noted. Dutch-Moroccan and Dutch-Turkish teens are more often responsible for this type of anti-Semitism, according to the study.
Incidents involving Holocaust denial or downplaying remained the same as ten years ago, with 14 percent of teachers facing that in the past year. Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories linked to the coronavirus pandemic didn’t seem to make their way into secondary schools. These “plots” rarely played a role in anti-Semitic incidents witnessed by teachers, the researchers found.
In two-thirds of recent incidents, the perpetrator came from a Western background. “This is not surprising given the ethnic composition of the total student population,” the researchers said. They noted that Dutch-Moroccan high school students are overrepresented within the perpetrator group. About a fifth of students responsible for anti-Semitic remarks is Dutch-Moroccan, while about 4 percent of all secondary school students have these nationalities. No matter the background, boys are overrepresented compared to girls.
The researchers found anti-Semitic incidents at all levels of education, from practical school to pre-university education. But it occurred relatively most in pre-vocational secondary education. That was also true about anti-Islam and anti-LGBTQIA+ incidents.
Panteia questioned 432 teachers about anti-Semitism experienced in their classrooms last year.