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Monday, June 24, 2024

New courses to fight anti-Semitism

Norway’s minister for education, Kristin Halvorsen, has reacted to recent figures about increasing anti-Semitism in schools by introducing courses for teachers that will instruct them in how to fight hatred of Jews among staff and pupils.

Halvorsen’s proposal will cost NOK 6 million (just over USD 1 million) and will focus on equipping teachers to fight anti-Semitism and racism in their schools. Schools will also have to mark Holocaust Memorial Day every year with events and initiatives designed to tackle discrimination against Jews and others. Teachers will be supplied with more books and material to help them educate their students, and parents will be involved where possible. The minister wants schools to be evaluated for how well they are doing on the issue.

The measures comes in the wake of a report, released over a week ago, that showed that Jewish pupils experienced more discrimination than any other religious or ethnic group, and that 52 percent of students had heard the word jøde (Jew) used to describe something negative. In March last year, Halvorsen joined faith representatives in condemning anti-Semitism in the education system after a documentary by Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) revealed serious incidents of discrimination in a number of schools. Halvorsen promised action at the time, and the Oslo-based Anti-Racism Center, speaking to news agency NTB, asked for a better systematic means for reacting to racism in schools as “many schools” were not “taking racism or anti-Semitism seriously.”

Halvorsen, the leader of the Socialist Left Party, has been criticized herself because of her party’s support for the Palestinians and sometimes for boycotts of Israel products. Jewish leaders in Norway recently invited a delegation of American Jews to visit the country in order to dispel the myth that Norway is a deeply anti-Semitic country while addressing serious issues of anti-Semitism in meetings with a number of ministers, including Halvorsen. One member of the American delegation, Mark Weitzman, told newspaper Aftenposten that he looked forward to discussing Halvorsen’s support for a boycott of Israel, asking “which other countries do they want to boycott?” among other questions. Weitzman also criticized Aftenposten and other media outlets for unwitting anti-Semitism.

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