Rally held to rebut allegations of Anti-Semitic harassment in Pine Bush schools

Dray Clark has the latest from Pine Bush.
November 10, 2013 8:35:56 PM PST
Pine Bush is a small town tucked away in the northwest corner of Orange County, Upstate New York. The kind of town where word travels quickly when something happens. Last week accusations of anti-Semitism happening in the Pine Bush District became public.

Jewish students say there bullied and subjected to seeing swastikas and symbols of hate written on school walls The allegation is the school district simply looked the other way and did nothing about it. .

Three families are now suing the district and governor Cuomo has asked the state education commissioner to investigate the claims.

On Sunday, hundreds of Pine Bush residents gathered to say that it was not a town of bigotry and hatred, rather it is diverse and all inclusive.

Many residents feel they're being called racist because they oppose a land deal in nearby Bloomingburg. They maintain an illegal deal was made between a Jewish developer and town officials to build town houses and a new private school.

Since residents are questioning the deal they say they're being called anti-Semitic.

Governor Cuomo called the allegations deeply disturbing.

"Here in New York State, we have zero tolerance for bigotry or hate based on anyone's religious or ethnic origin," Cuomo said. "And to that end, I have directed the State Police and the Division of Human Rights, to undergo a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding these acts. The public has a right to know the truth, and parents across the state have the right to know that their children can attend our schools without fear of this reprehensible behavior."

Cuomo also says he expects state education officials to tell parents what they knew and have done about the allegations at the district.

Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind also called on the state attorney general and U.S. Department of Justice to investigate.

"There are reports about incidents of swastikas, ant-Semitic epithets and nicknames, and jokes about the Holocaust being virtually ignored by the school system," said Hikind. "And of course it doesn't end there. When local authorities ignored assault, it inevitably leads to battery, to terroristic threats, to a tolerance of constant intimidation as if that's an inalienable right. So one Jewish boy gets beaten severely and another Jewish child is withdrawn from school, a third child learns to deny being Jewish and a fourth testifies to feelings of depression and suicide."