Maddi Fidler, a student at Minnetonka High School, first saw it in her school’s Jewish Student Union club groupchat.
“Someone posted the picture to make us aware,” she said. “I thought it was a small thing, but then it was all over my Instagram. It’s crazy that so many people saw it and it was viral so quickly.”
The student’s Finsta account was deleted, but apparently started a new one, in which the bio reads: “I apologize for my stupid mistake. There was no intent to offend anyone. Dm me if you would like to discuss anything.”
Jacqui Getty, the school district’s communications director, said that the district, “Won’t be naming the students or identifying them by age or grade. Neither can we, due to privacy laws, share their consequences.”
TC Jewfolk has independently confirmed that both students are seniors, but not the names and ages of both students, therefore we won’t name either of them at this time.
Principal Jeff Erickson, in a letter to parents, said: “This deeply offensive message in no way aligns with our school core values: do the right thing and represent us well.
“The students involved have since removed the message; I will not go into the specific details of what it said. As with any student disciplinary matter, we are governed by data privacy laws and will not be sharing details about the students or the consequences they will face for their actions. Please know that we take this matter seriously and are committed to ensuring a safe, positive environment for all students.
“Our foundation as a school community is built on respect, kindness and consideration to others. Our work in this area is ongoing, and it is one of our highest priorities. As a greater school community, I ask that you continue the dialogue around these core values. As a school, we will do so, as well.”
Steve Hunegs, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, thanked Erickson for the quick response.
“JCRC is deeply disturbed by the egregious anti-Semitic image circulating on social media depicting two Minnetonka High School students using the Nazi salute and making cruel and offensive jokes. Such images both insult the memory of Hitler’s victims, as well as the heroic Minnesotans who fought to defeat Nazism,” Huengs said. “We look forward to working in partnership with the Minnetonka School District to support their Jewish students and families in the face of such blatant anti-Semitism.”
Hunegs said that last spring, the JCRC organized for local Holocaust survivor Judith Meisel to speak to 120 9th–12th graders at Minnetonka High School.
“In light of the situation, the JCRC stands ready to provide additional Holocaust education resources and guidance on how to support the district’s Jewish students and families,” Hunegs said. “As we approach International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, we are gravely concerned about the lack of Holocaust knowledge amongst American millennials. According to a New York Times survey, 66% of American millennials do not know what Auschwitz was. We remain committed to educating Minnesotans about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism.”
Fidler said that she has sensed a great deal of anger from students at the school.
“People do recognize that it’s a bad thing,” she said. “That someone I walk past in the hallway would go out of the way to post this? Some thought it was a joke. It’s not a joke. If you think it’s a joke, there’s clearly something wrong with you.”