Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) called on N.Y. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Thursday, requesting that a task force be formed to investigate anti-Semitism throughout Rockland County. The call for an investigation comes on the heels of an anti-Semitic educational video shown in three 9th grade Social Studies classes at Clarkstown South High School late last week.
The cartoon video, distributed by study.com and approved by the district, was shown as part of a history lesson on Judaism and Christianity, explaining why Jews were persecuted under the Roman Empire. The video goes on to inaccurately describe Jews as “violent, religious extremists” and that the Jewish people “got what they deserved.”
“I’m calling on the Attorney General to investigate this cesspool of hate and anti-Semitism going on in Rockland County,” said Assemblyman Hikind in response to the anti-Semitic video. “What kind of teacher thinks this is appropriate to share with such impressionable young minds? How do we deal with that? It’s absolutely unconscionable to think that this malicious, anti-Jewish sentiment was allowed to be presented to youth, who will believe what their well-respected teachers are showing them.”
The controversial video has since been pulled from the provider’s website and YouTube channel, with the principal and superintendent releasing letters of apology. In addition, the teacher was counseled on the video’s inappropriate context, who was then directed to tell her students why the video was inaccurate and wrong.
The video debacle, however, represents just one of many troubling incidents within the county as of late.
The East Ramapo School District has continued to make headlines for its substantial divide between the ultra-Orthodox leaders and the parents of the community, while Pine Bush Central Schools saw repeated incidents of anti-Semitic bullying back in 2013. Moreover, the village of Bloomingburg was investigated for violating civil rights and fair housing laws by trying to prevent the development of 396 townhouses that cater to Hasidic Jews.
Hikind noted that the anti-Semitic video is equally as troubling as other dilemmas within the county, as it “provokes anti-Semitism in the next generation.”
“The dangerous behavior and environment being fostered by the communities and local governments needs to be dealt with in a serious manner,” Hikind said in a letter to the Attorney General. “We cannot sit idly by and allow this atmosphere to become even more poisonous than it already is.”