Collier County faith leaders push for Holocaust education after teen’s anti-Semitic video

Reporter: Gail Levy Writer: Jackie Winchester
Roses with a note saying “#weremember”, are placed on the Holocaust Memorial on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Faith leaders in Collier County were so upset by a teen’s anti-Semitic video that they’re pushing to educate the younger generation to learn from the past.

A middle school student on Snapchat spread a derogatory video filled with anti-Semitic rhetoric and a swastika symbol. The video was so upsetting that faith leaders don’t want to share it. Instead, they asked that we urge people who might hate someone for no apparent reason to educate themselves, to take a minute and come to a place like the Holocaust Museum in Naples.

Six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust alongside thousands of gays and lesbians. It’s hate we still see today, most recently from a middle schooler in Collier County.

“It was a Snapchat video that basically said that LGBTQ people are terrible, hateful things about them, and then at the end, it said ‘Heil Hitler’ with a swastika,” said Susan Suarez, president of the Holocaust Museum and Cohen Education Center.

“It was very disturbing for everyone who knows that history, knows that imagery, to see that being used by a middle school aged student,” said Rabbi Adam Miller of Temple Shalom.

A student so young they might not even realize what kids the same age went through during WWII.

“They were 8-, 10-, 12-year-old kids when they experienced the Holocaust, and if a child who is making videos and spreading this kind of hate could understand that it could just as easily be him or her, I think they would step back and go OK, yeah, this is dumb,” said Sam Parish, director of education at the Holocaust Museum.

It’s Parish’s job to remind people and teach them about what happened in the past.

“I think most kids are going to stand back and go OK, I didn’t realize that,” he said.

And they’ll realize whether Jewish or a member of the LGTBQ community, people are more alike than different.

“The best way to get beyond our prejudices and our stereotypes is to get to know people as individuals rather than grouping them into some pigeonholed group,” Suarez said.

The Collier County School Board said they couldn’t comment on this specific case but they are aware of the video and will address it per the code of student conduct. That could mean disciplinary action.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Holocaust, you can visit the Naples museum’s website.

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