NEW YORK (Jun. 23)
The board of education of a New Jersey town was accused Friday of trying to “whitewash” an incident in which a Jewish pupil was alleged to have been the victim of a verbal and physical anti-Semitic assault by some of her classmates. The charge was made by Arnold Forster, general counsel of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, after a special committee of the board of education of Little Falls, N.J. Issued a statement denying “charges of insensitivity, stereotyped concepts and anti-Semitism” in the town’s grammar school system.
The charges were made by WCBS-TV in a recent telecast on “the new anti-Semitism.” The education board held an hour-long press conference Thursday at which its president, John Heath, Jr., defended the “character and integrity” of Little Falls. The telecast featured Alyssa Feldman, an eighth grader, who said she had been beaten and subjected to anti-Semitic remarks after the class was shown a film on freedom of speech. The film, which was shown to newsmen before the press conference showed a neo-Nazi speaking in front of a Brooklyn Synagogue. The showing was meant to illustrate constitutional protection for the right of free speech.
Miss Feldman and her mother were interviewed on the telecast. The girl said other students had thrown pennies at her after the film showing and called her a “cheap Jew” and “dirty Jew.” Forster told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency he had been told Miss Feldman was picked up and slammed against a wall. Heath denied that Miss Feldman, the only Jew in the class, had been insulted or beaten. He said her complaint might be due possibly to “experiencing the pains of growing up.” Heath said the special committee had investigated the WCBS-TV claims and had found them to be “totally false.” He admitted however that the committee failed to speak to Miss Feldman. But Heath said he spent more than three hours at the Feldman home talking to Mrs. Feldman.
Forster, who said the incident took place early in April, said he was “shocked to learn that at this late date” the board of education would declare that the incident never happened. He said there were children in the classroom “who witnessed the anti-Semitic assault,” adding that if the board of education was able “to stifle this kind of evidence.” they might succeed in killing the story “but that this will take a lot of doing.”