On Friday, the New York Times lobbed a bombshell upstate: a story about allegations of anti-Semitism in the Pine Bush Central School District, an hour and a half north of the city, spanning across several small towns. Three Jewish families are suing the district, alleging widespread and fairly nasty harassment against their kids and other Jewish children, harassment they say the district knew about and did virtually nothing to stop.
|Image via. |
|Pine Bush High School.|
Several children gave testimony in the lawsuit last year, and the incidents they described and which the NYT recounted are disturbing: swastikas drawn everywhere, including on a seventh-grade girl's face as she was held down by two boys. Middle school students being called "Christ killer," "stupid Jew," "disgusting Jew," and being subjected to jokes about the Holocaust. Several students also alleged that they'd had coins thrown at them, a practically medieval form of insult. According to the suit, some students were given detention or sent to counseling, and some weren't disciplined at all. (In reporting the story, the NYT was given a fun bonus in the form of one John Barker, mechanic and proud civic booster, who said of Jewish families, "We don't want them in our town.")
The article had an immediate effect: Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released a joint statement with New York Congressman Patrick Maloney, pledging "a full state and federal response" to the allegations. Governor Andrew Cuomo sent a letter/press release to State Education Commissioner Dr. John King, asking if his department had heard about these incidents, and informing him that the state police and the Division of Human Rights would be investigating. More »