Thursday, October 15, 2015

Germany: Turkish Muslim educates immigrants not to hate Jews

Via Times of Israel:
Dervis Hizarci is a practicing Muslim, a German citizen of Turkish origin, and a guide in Berlin’s Jewish Museum. His services aren’t available to just anyone: Hizarci’s job is to guide teenagers from the surrounding Kreuzberg neighborhood, one of Berlin’s main migrant districts. Today, his visitors are a class of mostly Muslim students from a nearby high school.

Hizarci begins the tour with a question: How long does German-Jewish history span? For reference, he adds that Turkish-German history is about 50 years old. A student volunteers: 350 years? Hizarci tells them the answer: 2,000 years.

Next, he talks about another number: six million Jews killed in the Holocaust. To give the students a sense of scale, he adds that today there are around three million people of Turkish origin living in Germany. The teens seem surprised and moved.

Fostering these kinds of conversations is the mission of the Kreuzberg Initiative Against Anti-Semitism, whose German acronym is “Kiga.” The nonprofit fights prejudice among migrant teens, many of them Muslim. It has been awarded prizes by Germany’s Jewish Community and the Anti-Defamation League, but despite the plaudits, it remains virtually the only organization doing this type of work in Germany.

Kiga teaches pupils about contemporary Jewish life in Germany and similarities and differences between Judaism and Islam. But it also educates them about Islamist groups and the image of Islam in German media. Its activities range from neighborhood walks tracing former Jewish life to educational trips to Israel for German Muslim youths.

Most importantly, since much of the anti-Semitism Kiga deals with is Israel-related, the nonprofit tackles the issue head-on with curricula about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — an issue not addressed in German public schools.

The organization’s work is groundbreaking in taking on a problem that’s hardly restricted to this migrant minority of Middle Eastern origin. A 2014 survey by Friedrich-Ebert, a foundation aligned with a major center-left party, found that Israel-related anti-Semitism is widespread in German society at large.   more

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