New York State mulls requiring students to study history behind swastika

“It’s imperative that we educate our children on the repugnant meanings behind the swastika and noose,” said State Senator Todd Kaminsky.

By World Israel News Staff 

New York City is known as having the largest Jewish population in the world outside Israel, some 1.1 million according to figures from a few years ago, and hundreds of thousands more live just outside the city in Westchester and Long Island.

Yet, despite the longtime sense that being Jewish in New York is comfortable, officials in the city and outlying areas are working to fight anti-Semitism.

“Incidents of hatred and anti-Semitism have reared their ugly heads throughout our nation and most recently at home here in [Long Island’s] Nassau County,” says State Senator Todd Kaminsky (D-Nassau), in an interview with the New York Daily News.

“It is imperative that we educate our children on the repugnant meanings behind the swastika and noose as symbols of bigotry and intolerance,” he adds.

A bill introduced by Kaminsky would require public and private school students in sixth through 12th grade to learn about “the meaning of the swastika as the emblem of Nazi Germany, as well as the noose as a symbol of racism and intimidation,” reports the newspaper.

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Anti-Semitism threatens

Anti-Semitism has risen on both the right and left.

In response, the U.S. State Department recently updated the definition of anti-Semitism to include statements that make a comparison between Israeli policy and the Nazis.

It was “an apparent response to the rise of the anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanctions) movement whose supporters routinely make such comparisons,” wrote columnist Marc Thiessen on August 13 in The Washington Post and fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

“The fact is anti-Semitism is a growing problem on the left,” said Thiessen. “In Washington, congressional Democrats have struggled to confront anti-Semitism within their own ranks,” he adds.

Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) recently said that it is no different boycotting Israel than it was to boycott Nazi Germany.

Neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville in August 2017 chanted “Jews will not replace us!”

At the time, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted: “Outraged by expressions of anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and racism. Everyone should oppose this hatred.”

In October 2018, 11 Jewish worshipers were gunned down at a Pittsburgh synagogue. In a shooting at a San Diego synagogue earlier this year, a woman was murdered and the rabbi was among the wounded.

The problem stretches beyond America’s borders as well as where Jews make up an infinitesimal part of the population.

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In 2010, the Pew Research Center’s Global Religious Landscape study showed that about 0.2% of the world’s population is Jewish.

Yet, “anti-Semitic stereotypes are alive and well in Europe,” wrote CNN about a survey it recently conducted.

“More than a quarter of Europeans polled believe Jews have too much influence in business and finance. Nearly one in four said Jews have too much influence in conflict and wars across the world,” said the news network.

At the same time, “a third of Europeans in the poll said they knew just a little or nothing at all about the Holocaust,” CNN added.