Anti-Semitism has been a constant in Greater Boston for years. Increasingly, it is taking place in our schools and within our local governments.
Three of the most disturbing cases involving paid municipal officials were made public in the last six months: In late December of 2020, Marblehead Police announced that a patrolman allegedly carved a swastika into the paint of a fellow police officer’s car in the summer of 2019 – some 18 months before. The officer who was suspected of scratching the swastika resigned, and the police chief announced that the town had hired a firm to “conduct a holistic finding of fact so that we can learn all of the facts of this incident and include it in our training programs.” Nearly six months later, no report has been released on the investigation.
In February of this year, a Lowell School Committee member called a former city employee an anti-Semitic slur on live TV. “I hate to say it but that’s what people used to say behind his back,” Robert Hoey said on the program, suggesting that others in the school system also used the slur. Hoey resigned days later (he recently announced plans to run for the Lowell City Council), and some city officials said that hate speech and anti-Semitism would no longer be tolerated in the city. “In the days ahead, we must collectively commit to the ongoing work of engaging in courageous conversations – and truly bind together as a community to eradicate all forms of anti-Semitism, racism, anti-immigrant sentiment and biased-based conduct,” said Lowell Superintendent Joel Boyd. More than two months after the slur, no further information on “engaging in courageous conversations” has been released.
On March 12, during a game against Plymouth North, the Duxbury Football team used the word “Auschwitz” while calling a play. The incident was reported by the Plymouth North team to Duxbury and after 10 days, the Duxbury coach was fired. The school district announced that it had hired a firm to investigate the incident. But a spokesperson for the town later said it was unclear if any of the investigator’s final report would be made public.
The public deserves better from these communities. If a community can grow from hurtful events like these, its elected officials and top school leaders need to be transparent with residents. Otherwise, more hate will continue with perpetrators aware that confronting anti-Semitism and hate speech is not a priority for community leaders.