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We call for more inclusive education, as well as engagement among diverse Americans
(March 13, 2019, San Jose) ING is horrified to hear of two recent anti-Semitic incidents involving California teens. “Never again” is the pledge Jews and other people have made with regard to the Nazi Holocaust. And now it needs to be said again, in 2019 in the United States.
High school students in Costa Mesa, California, held a party in which they constructed a Nazi swastika out of plastic cups and posted photos on social media showing themselves giving Nazi salutes and making anti-Semitic statements. In response, parents arranged for Eva Schloss, Anne Frank’s stepsister, to talk with the students. She was astonished to find that the students said they didn’t understand what the Nazi symbols meant, despite having had a lesson in school on the Holocaust—as required by California law—only a few weeks earlier.
And just a few days later, ten anti-Semitic posters appeared at the students’ high school.
These were not isolated incidents. Just last week students in Alabama posted a video featuring blatantly racist and anti-Semitic statements, including one student who declared that if the Holocaust had never happened Jews would be running the world and others who drew on long-standing stereotypes of African-Americans that echoed historically vicious, racist slogans.
A civilized society cannot tolerate incidents such as these. The fact that they continue to occur shows we need to do a better job of educating both youth and adults about the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, and about all forms of racism and bigotry. All of us must work against the ideologies and attitudes that produce such horrors as the Holocaust. ING supports calls by Jewish organizations for both state and Federal legislation requiring education about the Holocaust, which currently is mandated in some states. Beyond that, we call for education at all levels about—and against—all forms of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism against Blacks and Latinx, and all forms of ethnocentrism and bigotry.
The fact that teens in educated and relatively liberal communities can display such horrifying insensitivity shows how crucial is the work of ING, and of all our partners fighting bigotry and prejudice. We stand together with Jewish Americans and all people of decency in pledging to redouble our efforts to work for interracial, interreligious, and intercultural understanding and harmony.