A video condemned by local and national groups for its negative portrayal of Jews was pulled by a Rockland County school on Tuesday.
The video, which was played as recently as last week in a ninth grade social studies class at Clarkstown South High School, included side-by-side historical comparisons of Judaism and Christianity. Jews were portrayed as being violent and “aloof” and that they “got what they deserved” as a result of their purported behavior.
According to a statement by the Anti-Defamation League, the school administration has apologized and “has made clear that the video was highly inappropriate and should never have been shown.”
The video compares the first-century Roman Empire’s perceptions of the Jewish and Christian communities of the time and purports to “explain” why Judaism attracted a small number of adherents versus Christianity’s larger growth.
Evan Bernstein, ADL’s New York regional director, said he was concerned over the “anti-Semitic stereotypes” which “presented a historically inaccurate portrayal of Jews and Judaism” in the video.
“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,” Bernstein said. “The video promotes … anti-Semitic myths that have been used for centuries to denigrate Judaism.”
Aron Wieder, a Rockland legislator, said the “horrible” video “does nothing but divide people by feeding stereotypes and fueling a climate of hate.”
In a letter sent to parents by Thomas Morton, the superintendent of Clarkstown Central School District, the district admitted that the video depicted Judaism in a “demeaning and historically inaccurate way” and promised to institute guidelines so that such a thing does not recur.
In addition, the principal and teacher have met with community leaders and a local Holocaust museum.
“I truly believe this was an example of people coming together for a positive purpose,” Morton wrote.
The video comes amid calls by a state assemblyman who lives in Clarkstown, Ken Zebrowski, for the state to impose a monitor on the Orthodox-majority Ramapo school board, which encompasses Clarkstown. The Jewish community has charged that the ongoing effort has fostered a negative atmosphere toward Jews in the district.
The county GOP, led by Executive Ed Day, regularly issues Twitter or social media posts deriding Jews. The ADL last got involved in the district in spring of 2015, when a Republican candidate for sheriff insinuated that Jews are housing scofflaws.