Orange County, NY – Despite an ongoing federal lawsuit filed by a group of Jewish families charging the public school district and its administrators with “pervasive anti-Semitism and indifference,” and thousands of pages of sworn testimony from victims, a deep-rooted, generational anti-Semitic culture continues to dominate the Pine Bush Public School system.Join our WhatsApp group
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A NEW YORK TIMES (http://bit.ly/1aIYTfz) piece chronicling the last decade or so of action, and inaction, surrounding the culture, paints a picture of frightened Jewish children, frustrated Jewish parents, and an almost across-the-board unwillingness by officials from the Pine Bush Public School District to not only address the culture, but in some cases even admit it exists.
At the heart of the matter lies the decades-old culture of anti-Semitic sentiment in the community which was home to a local Ku Klux Klan chapter president, and while the Klan may be no longer be openly operating in the community, it is stunningly clear that the hate-group’s message of hatred towards Jews continues to get passed on from generation to generation.
Swastikas throughout the school, jokes about the Holocaust, verbal assaults with taunts of “white power” and Nazi salutes—-these are all common occurrences Jewish children are forced to navigate daily—with little, often no help from school officials, some of whom cite the problem as being too deeply-rooted to address.
For instance, when one Jewish parent complained in 2011 to Pine Bush’s then-superintendent Philip G. Steinberg about ongoing abuse towards her daughter and a fellow Jewish classmate, Steinberg emailed her back saying, “I have said I will meet with your daughter and I will, but your expectations for changing inbred prejudice may be a bit unrealistic.”
When the mother of a fifth-grader brought to the attention of elementary school principal Steve Fisch that her daughter had witnessed two boys drawing swastikas on school walls, Fisch responded, “What’s the big deal? They didn’t aim it towards her.”
In his deposition, Steinberg—who retired this past summer—stated that his biggest challenge was dealing with “so many” students having been bred into the pervasive anti-Jewish culture.
“The issue is not three students doing it all the time; the question is if you have 30 students doing it,” Steinberg said. “How do you undo the years of inbred prejudice?”
Meanwhile, NY Assemblyman Dov Hiknd is calling On NY State Attorney General And U.S. Department Of Justice To Investigate, in a press release issued by Hikind the Assemblyman said:
“We have a national dialogue about equality for everyone and tolerance for all lifestyles and the long-term damage that bullying does to a child. But here in Pine Bush we discover the worst type of bullying. It is taught by parents, tolerated by the school district, and it has gone on for years without interference from local officials. That is unconscionable.
“You have the local superintendent responding to a parent who complained about her daughter’s harassment, ‘your expectations for changing inbred prejudice may be a bit unrealistic.’ You have testimony from numerous victims that not one or two but 35 students regularly carry out anti-Semitic acts. Threats like ‘Die Jew’ are made and tolerated. A swastika is drawn on a photograph of President Obama’s face and, after reported, left hanging on a wall for a month! You have a seventh grade girl restrained by one student while another draws a swastika on her face!
“This is beyond outrageous. This is heart breaking. This is what those poor Jewish children and their families had to tolerate in Germany in 1933. But we will not stand for this. We will not tolerate Jewish children being used as punching bags. There are laws in this country and it’s time to unmask what’s been going on in Pine Bush, New York and bring law to this town and protection to all of its residents.”