Anti-Semitism target prefers outreach
Danni Heymann reacts to community anger after she was targeted by a schoolboy’s anti-Semitic message
A MATRICULANT at a JohannesburgJewish school says she does notwant punishment for a 14-year-oldTreverton pupil and his friends whosent her an anti-Semitic voice note.
The voice note suggested to thegirl, Danni Heymann (18), that sheshould have died in the Holocaust,and someone then joked: “What doyou call a flying Jew? Smoke!”
New Treverton headmaster, KeanBroom, responded swiftly to addressthe matter at the Mooi Riverschool and said in a statement:“This is something that is completelycontrary to our values as aschool”, adding: “We are facilitatingthe process of apology and reconciliationbetween perpetrators andthe victim”.
He added: “Despite our naturaldesire to want justice immediately,it is equally important that dueprocess is followed and that thedecisions we make are constructiveand build towards positive andlasting change. I have been overwhelmedby the grace shown bythe Jewish community in the midstof the hurt and anger.”
The South African Jewish Boardof Deputies said it had engagedwith Heymann, the school, and theDurban Holocaust and GenocideCentre, and will give sensitivitytraining to the boy and other pupilsat the school.
The organisation said the 14year-oldhad apologised to Heymannand he and his family had visited the Johannesburg Holocaustand Genocide Centre on Wednesday.“We believe that, whereverpossible, educational processes witha view to behavioural change arecritical in addressing anti-Semitismand indeed all forms of hate in ourcountry. This is especially truewhen the perpetrators of such hatredare still young.”
In a response on social media,Heymann said she did not want tolay charges against the boy. “I simplywanted to use this situation asa platform to build up awarenessof a far greater problem than a 10-second voice note from a childthat clearly has not been educatedon this topic before.” — WR.
THIS is an edited version of the reaction on social media from the Jewish schoolgirl who was the target of an anti-Semitic voice note from a Treverton schoolboy.
Hello everyone. My name is Danni Heymann and I am a matric student at a Jewish day school in Johannesburg.
The last 36 hours have been an absolute emotional roller coaster for me and many tears have been shed due to an unbearable feeling of being far too overwhelmed.
I can clearly see how angry my community is. But I just want to remind you all that you cannot educate a child with hatred. You cannot turn a negative situation into a positive situation with nothing but anger. What this boy did was horrifying and I have never been affected by something like this to such a large extent. But because I am the victim of this situation, I am able to see the bigger picture.
Perhaps an apology from the boy and the school seems like it wasn’t enough. But for me, it was the halfway point to
amending the traumatic situation. The boy I heard on the voice note I received and the boy I heard on the phone today sound like two completely different people. In relation to that, I can see this situation has affected him to the point where the only thing left for him to do is change.
My intention with this situation was never to expel him, suspend him nor take legal action. I simply wanted to use this situation as a platform to build up awareness of a far greater problem than a 10 second voice note from a child that clearly has not been educated on this topic (of anti-semitism) before.
I am asking my community with all the love I have in my heart, to not approach this situation with anger, but rather with pride that we are such a strong nation. This situation is not about the boy for me, it’s about the opportunity this situation has given me to make a change.
Please approach my story with positivity and support and not let anger take over the special and big hearts that our community has. I thank you all for your support and for allowing me to realise that I can truly make a difference now, and I am.
I even mentioned to him while explaining to him why I chose to make this public, that if I had replied to his text telling him the exact same thing I shared online, he would have never taken me seriously. I explained to him that I am sorry that this was the only way he would be able to learn a lesson and after hearing how sorry he was, and this was genuinely the most sincere and meaningful apology I have ever received, I knew in my heart that not only did these consequences force him to grow up, but also change him into a better person.
We spoke for almost an hour (on the phone) over the issue. What he said to me was so much more than an apology. Yes, this type of situation surely forced him into apologising, but that doesn’t mean that his apology meant nothing to him at all. Unfortunately what I feel so many people have failed to understand is that he is a 14-year-old boy who has probably made the worst mistake of his life.
I am a very positive person, with a strong and determined mindset. I have learned over my 18 years of living that the only way to move forward is to be open to forgiveness.
Danni Heymann: ‘... Please approach my story with positivity and support ...’