The Simon Wiesenthal Center sent representatives to meet with the National Park Service and Ortega National Parks to announce a critical partnership to combat anti-Semitism and hate in response to the Labor Day hate crime at the Silver Gull Beach Club in Breezy Point.
In September, authorities found Holocaust-related graffiti like swastikas and “gas chamber” references at the resort’s playground, which they closed during the last week of the beach season.
The three organizations unveiled their jointly developed plan that can serve as a model program for a no-tolerance policy towards such displays of hatred at NPS/Ortega parks and in other jurisdictions.
“We hope this plan serves as a national model and springboard for other community spaces around the country to proactively enforce a no-tolerance policy toward any incidents of anti-Semitism and hatred,” Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean and Advocacy Director Rabbi Abraham Cooper said. “There is no room for this kind of bigotry in our parks, or anywhere.”
The organizations agreed to send an annual delegation to the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles to engage in a multi-day training course to increase preparedness for seasonal employees on the areas of diversity, cultural sensitivity, and proper training for combating hate in their facilities and properties.
“We look forward to working with Ortega National Parks and the Simon Wiesenthal Center to ensure that we are providing a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment for all visitors,” Gateway National Recreation Area Superintendent Jen Nersesian said. “Gateway is a national park, here for all people. Hate has no place at our sites and runs counter to the values for which we stand.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Courage to Remember exhibit will be displayed during the opening weeks of the 2020 season at Silver Gull Beach Club and Breezy Point Surf Club. This exhibit shows the timeline of the Holocaust and demonstrates the underpinnings through the growth of unchecked hate.
“The fact these images were discovered means that there is a systematic attempt to intimidate this community,” Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato said. “We must continue to demonstrate that our love and commitment is stronger than any attempt to instill fear and promote hate. I look forward to standing with all of these organizations against bigotry and intolerance.”
The organizations will also hold a series of town hall meeting for all Silver Gull members. More than 130 attended the first meeting on Nov. 25 at the beach club.
“I am pleased to see the investigation into the horrific hate symbols and words that were found in and around the Gateway National Recreation Area in Rockaway is ongoing and that collaborative efforts are underway to address the need to reduce these types of criminal activity,” State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr. said. “Usually, there is minimal follow upon incidents such as this, so it’s refreshing to hear updates about this situation. I would also like to thank all those involved in the educational campaign aimed at raising awareness about hate speech and hate symbols that came out of this terrible incident. Educating the youth and others that these words and symbols means we can go a long way in rooting out hate in our communities.”