A school in the United Kingdom is under fire after it was found students tried to force a Jewish 15-year-old to eat pizza that was topped with ham.
One of the students involved in the incident, which occurred in December but was just reported and vetted by administrators, was suspended.
The incident took place at Bristol Clifton College, and comes amid a wave of anti-Semitic incidents in the United Kingdom.
The Times of Israel has more:
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Amid widespread protests against anti-Semitism within the British Labour party, local media reported Wednesday that a student in a Bristol high school was briefly suspended for trying to force-feed a ham pizza to a Jewish pupil.
While the 15-year-old victim felt the incident last December at the prestigious Clifton College was not anti-Semitic in nature, the high-school said in a statement that it has been treating it as such a case. Eating pork is forbidden under Jewish law.
The incident was also condemned as anti-Semitic by an official in the local Jewish community, who slammed the school for “brushing it under the carpet” and failing to expel the offender, who is said to have returned to class.
“I would like to express disappointment felt by the local Jewish community at the school’s lack of response,” an unnamed high-profile member of Bristol’s Jewish community was quoted as saying. “It isn’t the first case of anti-Semitism at Clifton College. The fact it happened in the first place is awful but the way in which Clifton College has brushed it under the carpet is much worse.”
“There was a promise from the school that the student would be expelled but I don’t think that happened,” he added. “It’s difficult to describe what abuse like this does to a child. Beyond the physical abuse is a deep psychological effect. For someone who is Jewish and never eaten pork this is a truly horrible thing to go through.
“For someone to be assaulted and abused is terrible – but with the anti-Semitism it is potentially very scarring for the victim. He has suffered psychologically.”
Clifton College commented on the incident, saying the behavior fell “far short” of its standards, but added that its sanctions were “proportionate and appropriate.”
“In December 2017, a Jewish pupil was eating with his close-knit group of friends when his friends attempted to force him to eat a piece of pizza containing ham,” the school said in a statement. “While the pupil concerned felt that this was not an anti-Semitic act, the school considered the incident to be completely unacceptable, falling far short of the high standards we expect from our pupils.”
“Anti-Semitism in any guise is abhorrent, pernicious and is absolutely not tolerated at Clifton College, which enjoys a deep and longstanding connection with the Jewish community,” the statement continued. “We are proud that there have been Jewish students at Clifton College since 1879. They are an integral and valued part of the Clifton College community.”
“Following a thorough investigation of the incident by the school, proportionate and appropriate sanctions were put in place. We take every opportunity to educate our pupils about the importance of kindness, tolerance and the potentially devastating effects of prejudice,” Clifton College added.
The story broke out after British Jewish leaders ramped up the pressure against the Labour party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn. Around 1,500 protesters massed outside the country’s parliament in London on Monday, in an unprecedented rally organized by the usually publicity-averse Anglo-Jewish leadership.
Allegations of Labour anti-Semitism have grown since Corbyn, a pro-Palestinian socialist, was elected leader of Britain’s main opposition party in 2015.
Some in the party say Corbyn, a longtime critic of Israeli actions against the Palestinians, has allowed abuse to go unchecked.
The latest furor erupted over a six-year-old Facebook post by Corbyn supporting the artist behind a street mural that included anti-Semitic stereotypes.
Corbyn has said he regrets not looking closely at the “deeply disturbing and anti-Semitic” mural before offering support to the artist.
Corbyn wrote that “anti-Semitic attitudes have surfaced more often in our ranks in recent years, and that the party has been too slow in processing some of the cases that have emerged.”
He said he was “sincerely sorry for the pain which has been caused,” and vowed Labour would have “zero tolerance for anti-Semites.”
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