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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Insults, old as the ages, scrawled on walls

Are we seeing things or are we seeing something? Police are looking for the person or persons who wrote anti-Semitic epithets on advertising signs at the Lawrence and Cedarhurst Long Island Rail Road stations over the past year.

(If you have information about these crimes, please call Nassau County Crime Stoppers at (800) 244-TIPS or call the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Police Detective Division No. 2 directly at (516) 222-6501. Refer to MTA P.D. case No. 13-14636. All calls will remain anonymous.)

At the same time, officers are hoping for a tip in what is being called a “hate crime incident” at the Roosevelt Field Mall. A swastika and the words “death to Jews” were written in 2-foot-high red letters in a service corridor recently. Anyone with information is also asked to call Crime Stoppers.

Two incidents don’t make a crime wave, and, sadly, anti-Semitic crimes are not uncommon. What drew my attention was a press release from the Anti-Defamation League stating that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in New York state increased in 2012 by 27 percent. The state with the largest population of Jewish people has the greatest number of anti-Jewish hate crimes, which include vandalism, harassment and threats. Nassau County was second only to Brooklyn in the number of anti-Semitic acts investigated in 2012.

Often, the perpetrators are kids, but this isn’t a kids-will-be-kids thing. When these young people are caught, they need to be educated in addition to being punished for their hateful acts. Anti-Semitism, like other prejudices, strikes its roots in ignorance. Sometimes kids are acting out, reflecting the bias and distortions they’ve heard at home. With the advantages of the Internet and social media as educational tools, it should be easier than it is to battle the blight of irrational hatred. Of course, there is plenty of misinformation and anti-Semitic propaganda online as well.

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