www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

War only will add to Middle East problems -7/22/2014, 8:10 AM

Avoiding taxes -7/22/2014, 8:10 AM

Take the win in Iran -7/21/2014, 8:57 AM

The high court's high-handedness -7/21/2014, 8:57 AM

Up in arms in the Capitol -7/20/2014, 4:52 PM

Firefighters weigh in on pay raise -7/20/2014, 4:52 PM

Backpacks for Kids -7/20/2014, 4:52 PM

Our unwillingness to defend ourselves -7/18/2014, 10:51 AM

Remembering a man who championed freedom -7/18/2014, 10:51 AM

GOP split -7/17/2014, 8:38 AM

New Kansas senator -7/17/2014, 8:37 AM

Who'll build the roads? -7/17/2014, 8:37 AM

Reagan: In or out? -7/16/2014, 2:45 PM

'Unbroken' WWII vet more than a hero -7/16/2014, 2:44 PM

Savor the fruits of your labor -7/16/2014, 2:44 PM

Erasing candidate's standards -7/15/2014, 11:36 AM

Returning to Trail Wood -7/15/2014, 10:13 AM

Leaving some in 'suspense' -7/15/2014, 10:13 AM

Strangers in a remarkable land -7/14/2014, 9:11 AM

Courageous or spineless? Our actions decide -7/14/2014, 9:11 AM

Ambition: An unlikely gift to Kansas voters -7/13/2014, 11:16 AM

Beyond the outrage -7/13/2014, 11:16 AM

Water watch -7/13/2014, 11:16 AM

Scenic outlooks -7/11/2014, 9:18 AM

China's research trumps teaching -7/11/2014, 9:17 AM

Important slow news -7/10/2014, 9:42 AM

We've got a promise to keep -7/10/2014, 9:33 AM

The white combine calls -7/9/2014, 10:02 AM

Vote for family values -7/9/2014, 10:02 AM

Politicians making a mockery of my faith -7/9/2014, 10:02 AM

Missing tribute -7/9/2014, 10:02 AM

Rural students deserve 21st Century education -7/8/2014, 9:10 AM

The education table dance -7/8/2014, 9:10 AM

A new virus -7/8/2014, 9:10 AM

Government as God -7/7/2014, 9:38 AM

EPA affecting others -7/7/2014, 9:38 AM

'Narrow' decision from the narrow-minded -7/7/2014, 9:38 AM

The tax trap -7/6/2014, 4:35 PM

Rulings produce 'First Amendment fireworks' -7/6/2014, 4:35 PM

Firefighter salaries -7/6/2014, 4:35 PM

Economic freedom -7/4/2014, 11:54 AM

Protecting our independence -7/4/2014, 11:54 AM

Dan Johnson, 1936-2014 -7/3/2014, 7:12 AM

New Iraq offensive backfires -7/3/2014, 7:11 AM

Setting things straight -7/3/2014, 7:11 AM

'Crapitalism' -7/3/2014, 7:11 AM

Feeding peace throughout the world -7/2/2014, 9:01 AM

Half way is still only half way -7/2/2014, 9:01 AM

Sherow a better choice -7/2/2014, 9:01 AM

Fireworks, part II -7/2/2014, 9:01 AM

Reality show made in Topeka -7/1/2014, 8:53 AM

The justices and their cellphones -7/1/2014, 8:53 AM

LOB defeated -7/1/2014, 8:53 AM

Tragedy explored in 'Broken Heart Land' -6/30/2014, 9:14 AM

Mexico City: The adventure continues -6/30/2014, 9:14 AM

Even our youngest Americans are citizens -6/29/2014, 12:58 PM

Ban on fireworks -6/29/2014, 12:58 PM

It's time to teach active citizenship -6/29/2014, 12:57 PM

The education establishment's success -6/27/2014, 10:39 AM

Piecework professors -6/27/2014, 10:39 AM

Marriage for all -6/27/2014, 10:39 AM

Prairie chicken madness -6/26/2014, 4:17 PM

Omission control -6/26/2014, 10:12 AM

Equal in the eyes of the law -6/26/2014, 10:12 AM

Help wanted -6/26/2014, 10:12 AM

The old red barn -6/25/2014, 9:19 AM

Beware the unimaginable -6/25/2014, 9:19 AM

Early critic of school testing was right -6/24/2014, 8:53 AM

Finding something 'different' in Topeka -6/24/2014, 8:53 AM

Shopping small -6/24/2014, 8:53 AM

Into the classroom -6/23/2014, 8:55 AM

Wow! And thanks to you -6/23/2014, 8:55 AM

Fireworks double-standard -6/23/2014, 8:55 AM

Glass half full -6/22/2014, 5:57 PM

Brownback's experiment wallops taxpayers -6/22/2014, 5:56 PM

Examining the importance of 'where' we speak -6/22/2014, 5:56 PM

Slavery reparations -6/20/2014, 8:33 AM

'Help me plagiarize' -6/20/2014, 8:33 AM

Thank a farmer -6/20/2014, 8:33 AM

Here comes tomorrow -6/19/2014, 8:43 AM

Why Americans dislike soccer -6/19/2014, 8:43 AM

Switching to teaching -6/18/2014, 4:32 PM

Clinic closing good -6/17/2014, 9:59 AM

Other avenues -6/17/2014, 9:59 AM

Land grabs -6/17/2014, 9:59 AM

Lending a helping hand -6/17/2014, 9:59 AM

Mariel revisited -6/17/2014, 9:59 AM

Making for some summer fun -6/17/2014, 9:59 AM

Enough is enough -6/16/2014, 9:24 AM

What happened to April, May revenues? -6/16/2014, 9:24 AM

The VA and the Indians: Business as usual -6/16/2014, 9:24 AM

Water's strength -6/15/2014, 9:56 AM

In mosque fight, religious freedom wins -6/15/2014, 9:56 AM

Power of the woman -6/15/2014, 9:56 AM

Veterans deserve better -6/13/2014, 9:57 AM

School safety -6/13/2014, 9:56 AM

Who owns you? -6/13/2014, 9:56 AM

Proper licensure -6/13/2014, 9:56 AM

Kobach wants to end Medicare benefits -6/12/2014, 9:22 AM

Libertarians versus conservatives -6/12/2014, 9:22 AM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

Anti-Semitism rears its ugly head again

Published on -11/17/2013, 1:01 PM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

Americans have long have needed a wake-up call about pernicious anti-Semitism that still poisons our society -- and last week we got one.

On the eve of the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht -- the violent anti-Jewish pogroms that took place in Germany on Nov. 9 and 10, 1938 -- the New York Times published a chilling account of pervasive anti-Semitism in Pine Bush Central school district, located in a rural area 90 miles north of New York City.

Drawing on 3,500 pages of deposition testimony in a lawsuit against the district filed by three Jewish families, reporter Benjamin Weiser chronicles years of harassment and intimidation directed at Jewish students.

Swastikas everywhere, Jewish kids attacked, Nazi salutes on school buses, anti-Jewish slurs -- and much more -- according to Jewish students and parents.

New York Gov. Mario Cuomo was so disturbed after reading the article he directed the New York State Police and the State Division of Human Rights to investigate.

The legal system will determine the culpability of schools officials (who admit to some of the incidents, but claim they did what they could to address the issue). But a community where young people regularly carve swastikas with "die Jew" messages on school property clearly has a big problem.

Anti-Semitism might not rise to this level in many other school districts (or at least one hopes not), but ugly incidents directed at Jews are not uncommon in some of the school districts I have visited during the past two decades. Prejudice against Jews is especially evident in rural communities such as Pine Bush where Jewish families are a small minority.

Only 12 percent of Americans admit to strong anti-Semitic views (down from 15 percent in 2011), according to a survey of attitudes toward Jews released last month by the Anti-Defamation League.

But the scope and intensity of anti-Jewish sentiment is perhaps better measured by the ten of thousands of websites spewing hatred for Jews. And by the fact that in 2011 (the most recent year reported by the FBI) 62 percent of the 1,318 hate crimes in the U.S. motivated by religious bias were directed at Jews.

In Europe, the situation is even worse. In a recent poll conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, nearly one fourth of Jewish respondents said they were discriminated against on the grounds of religion or ethnic background in the 12 months preceding the survey.

Combating anti-Semitism requires more than disciplining a few students caught in the act of harassing others, as Pine Bush officials claim they did. It takes a commitment to educate all students -- including those from homes with anti-Semitic parents -- in the truth about Judaism and Jews.

And it takes a commitment by all members of the school community to create and sustain a caring school culture where students learn to respect one another across religious and ethnic differences. (To learn how, visit www.character.org.)

Lest we forget, Kristallnacht was a defining moment in the Nazi campaign against the Jews. Instigated by Nazi party officials, Storm Troopers and Hitler Youth, the destruction of Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues set the stage for the systematic murder of Jews in the Holocaust.

On that terrible night of broken glass 75 years ago, many Germans disturbed by the violence and hate looked the other way -- remaining silent when speaking up still could have made a difference.

That's why "never again" must include taking alarm at warning signs of ignorance and hate, especially among young people. Schools must be the solution, not part of the problem.

Charles C. Haynes is director of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute, Washington

chaynes@newseum.org

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos