Students in a classroom [Illustrative].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NEW YORK – The use of an anti-Semitic video, shown to students at Clarkstown South High School in Rockland County, New York, was discontinued last week after Jewish groups voiced strong criticism against it.
The clip, produced by an education company called Study.com and shown to the students as part of their history lesson, is a cartoon and provides a comparison of what the first-century Roman Empire thought of the Jewish and Christian communities at the time.
It depicts Jews as “violent religious extremists” who communicated only in Hebrew and “held themselves aloof.” It also “explains” why Judaism attracted a small number of adherents compared to Christianity and why Jews received little sympathy for their sufferings from the Romans.
After receiving a number of complaints, Clarkstown schools superintendent J.Anti-Semitic video shown at New York high school discontinued Thomas Morton wrote a letter apologizing for the use of the video.
“The video depicted Judaism in a demeaning and historically inaccurate way,” he said. “The principal and the teacher have worked with the students and their families to underscore that the use of this video was a mistake and to address any concerns they may have regarding this experience.”
Morton added, “My administrative team reached out to the company that created the video to express our concerns. After reflection, the company recognized the issues with the presentation and removed it from use.”
Co-founder of the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council Yossi Gestetner told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, “It takes a tremendous level of chutzpah to produce a video and then show the video to young students, which basically blames Jews for the persecution that they faced and tried to whitewash the fact that few people came to help Jews in the past.”
Gestetner added that while he is glad that the school tried to take corrective measures, “It is very concerning that public officials who could have known about this for more than a week, have been silent.”
“That’s even more striking than anything,” he told the Post.
Speaking more generally about anti-Semitic incidents in New York, he also said that he is concerned about “anti-Orthodox bigotry” coming from some elected New York State officials and sometimes even from Jews themselves.
The Anti-Defamation League expressed concern over the video, which they said “espoused anti-Semitic stereotypes, presented a historically inaccurate portrayal of Jews and Judaism, and made multiple references to Judaism as inferior to Christianity.”
ADL New York regional director Evan R. Bernstein said, “We are profoundly troubled that someone in the school thought that this video would be a good teaching tool to show the differences between Judaism and Christianity.”
He continued, “The reference to Jews getting ‘what they deserved’ because of their behavior throughout history is abhorrent. These are all classic anti-Semitic myths that have been used for centuries to denigrate Judaism.”
The ADL added that it is “glad that Clarkstown South High School has made clear that the video was highly inappropriate and should never have been shown.”