By Haaretz Service
Ten middle school students in Naples, Florida have been suspended after taking part in what they termed “Kick a Jew Day” at their school, school district officials reported.
The one day in-school suspensions were served earlier this week.
The incident occurred a day before red-haired students were targeted at a California middle schoool in what was a Facebook group called “Kick a Ginger Day,” which some say was inspired by the popular American animation series South Park.
The Naples Daily News quoted local school district officials as saying that they will concentrate on cultural sensitivity training, including 20 minutes of homeroom meetings each day at North Naples Middle School, on building character traits such as respect and kindness and on the prevention of bullying.
In the “Kick a Ginger Day” attacks, nobody was seriously hurt and no arrests were made.
The newspaper quoted a local Jewish leader as saying the incidents should result in more than suspensions.
“You are talking about an incident that has anti-Jewish bias if not anti-Semitism. You have Jewish students being singled out, harassed and assaulted,” David Barkey of the Florida Anti-Defamation League told the Naples Daily News.
“If the allegations are true, it is possible these students violated Florida’s new anti-bullying law. And, if students were physically assaulted, it could rise to the level of criminal conduct,” he added.
Rabbi James Perman, of Temple Shalom in North Naples, called the situation “alarming.”
“I can tell you this: I haven’t seen anything like it in my 17 years in Naples. No child deserves this kind of treatment,” he wrote in an e-mail Monday, the paper reported.
“Their parents are understandably outraged. So far it seems that the school system has taken appropriate measures and we applaud their efforts. At this point, teaching sensitive awareness is more important than punishing anyone.”