Way forward on Edenvale "Heil Hitler" incident

Yesterday, the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) together with the Principal of King David Victory Park Mr Andrew Baker met with Dr Larry Harmer, Principal of Edenvale High. The aim of the meeting was to find a way forward, following an incident that took place when Nazi slogans and gestures were directed against Jewish learners from King David Victory Park by learners from Edenvale High at an inter-school one-act play competition. This was in the context of a performance by King David of the Holocaust-themed drama ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’.

During the meeting, it was confirmed that at least one Edenvale learner had made offensive comments at the event, for which he had since expressed sincere remorse. Dr Harmer likewise unequivocally apologised for any offense caused and undertook to work with the SAJBD in introducing, through the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre, an educational and sensitivity training programme at his school to prevent any recurrence of incidents of this nature.

SAJBD National Director Wendy Kahn stressed that while chants of ‘Heil Hitler’ and similar acts of identification with the ideology of Nazism were unacceptable under any circumstances, they were especially hurtful when the intention was to bait and insult Jewish people. As was well known, she said, Nazi tyranny had resulted in the systematic mass murder of some three-quarters of European Jewry during World War II. For that reason, Jews found it deeply hurtful, and indeed threatening, to be confronted with crass taunts expressing support for the Nazi ideology.

The SAJBD welcomes Edenvale High’s unequivocal condemnation of the incident. It further appreciates the willingness shown by the school to implement appropriate measures aimed at sensitising its learners to the importance of avoiding behaviour likely to cause hurt and offense, whether on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity or any other such grounds.

For more information please contact Wendy Kahn on 082 444 3675 or email wendy@sajbd.org

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