NJ mayor demands answers after HS yearbook swaps Jewish student group photo for one of Muslim students

Outrage exploded after the yearbook for East Brunswick High School in New Jersey was found to have removed a photo of a Jewish group, replacing it with one of Muslim students.

The section under the title that listed the Jewish Student Union was also left blank. Many viewed the incident as a brazen act of antisemitism and hundreds of yearbooks have now been recalled.

“We were shocked and disturbed when we got up to our page and saw what happened. It was disappointing, and it feels like they were trying to take our identity away from us,” a member of the Jewish Student Union told the New York Post in an interview.

Christine Mahler and Jack Goldberg, of the East Brunswick Jewish Center, were both “shocked” and “appalled” at the development, according to the Post.

“We have a very prominent Jewish community in East Brunswick, and everyone is very upset by what happened at the high school. We’ve never had anything like this happen before.” Mahler noted.

“We stand with the mayor’s office and our fellow synagogues in demanding a response from the district. We don’t want to pre-emptively pass judgment, but we need answers,” Goldberg asserted.

Enter Mayor Brad Cohen who angrily stated that the situation was totally unacceptable and demanded that the district find out how it happened.

“Hate has no place in East Brunswick and antisemitism will not be tolerated,” he said in a statement. The mayor also wants those responsible to be charged with a hate crime.

In a press release, Cohen stated, “I think the community — both the Jewish community and community at large — deserve an answer to this quickly. It’s downright upsetting and outrageous for you not to call it out for what it is: It is an antisemitic act. It doesn’t imply who did it, not making any accusation of who did it — that’s up to the investigation.”

(Video Credit: NBC New York)

Right on cue, the excuse that it was a “mistake not caught in editing and printed unintentionally,” was made by Brittany VanDyke, the faculty advisor for the yearbook, according to the Daily Wire. “We know what happened, we know our truth and we are working hard to rectify this situation immediately.”

“I sent a message out to the community today saying that we’re investigating — and I wished people would give us time to investigate, not rush to judgment,” Superintendent Victor Valeski said according to the media outlet. “I’m gonna wait to find out what the investigation finds, because it could be a legitimate mistake. So I don’t want to call it antisemitism yet.”

“I am devastated and frustrated,” Valeski said according to Fox News. “Above all, I personally, along with the entire East Brunswick Board of Education, sincerely apologize for the hurt, pain and anguish this event has caused our Jewish students, their families and the impact this continues to have on the entire EB community.”

Valeski also outrageously apologized to the Muslim community, groveling, “I want to offer sincere apologies to our Muslim students and families, as well. I am aware that the picture placed in the yearbook has caused pain for our Muslim students and for that I am deeply sorry. We work every day to foster an inclusive school environment for all EB students but I realize that new work needs to be done every day to make that a reality.”

(Video Credit: CBS New York)

Other groups are outraged as well and are demanding answers.

“We are seeking clarification from the school and Board of Education on how such an incident occurred, as well as the actions planned to address this unacceptable situation and to hold the people who are responsible accountable,” the Jewish Federation Heart of New Jersey said in a statement.

Valeski appears to be full of flimsy excuses.

“Because the yearbook is produced using publishing software, we have digital tracking for every element added or deleted from a page,” Valeski told Fox News in an interview. “We have not found any evidence that a picture was replaced or student names were deleted. In fact, the student names were never populated for the Jewish Student Union.”

“We already have a new proof of the corrected page and the publisher will be in East Brunswick next week to begin replacing it in student yearbooks,” he claimed.

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