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‘Blatant Antisemitic Act’: High School Yearbook Erases Jewish Students’ Names, Replaces Photo With Muslim Students

The 2023-2024 yearbook for East Brunswick High School in New Jersey replaced a photo of the Jewish Student Union (JSU) with Muslim students and erased the names of the JSU members. Photo: Screenshot from StopAntisemitism on X/Twitter

A town in New Jersey has become the center of controversy after the local high school’s yearbook removed the names of Jewish students from a page and replaced their photo with one of Muslim students — an incident that the town’s mayor called a “blatant antisemitic act.”

The 2023-2024 yearbook for East Brunswick High School replaced a photo of the Jewish Student Union (JSU) with Muslim students and erased the names of the members of the JSU, leaving a large blank space on the page.

East Brunswick Mayor Brad Cohen expressed outrage over the incident and said new yearbooks will be ordered.

“At a minimum, I have … been assured that new yearbooks will be ordered and distributed with the correct pictures and names,” Cohen wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday. “Hate has no place in East Brunswick and antisemitism will not be tolerated.”

Cohen announced there would be an investigation into the incident.

“The administration will need to determine: 1. How did this happen? 2. What person or persons are responsible? 3. Who are the yearbook advisers and who signed off on this page? 4. Did this act occur at the publisher end? 5. How will perpetrators be held accountable? 6. Does this constitute a hate crime and how will this be prosecuted?” the mayor added.

Dr. Victor Valeski, superintendent of the East Brunswick Public School System, has also addressed the incident.

“We are aware of an error in the yearbook,” Valeski said in an email on Tuesday. “We are working with the publisher to correct the yearbook. We are also investigating how the error occurred and will address that as appropriate at the conclusion of this investigation.”

Valeski also apologized for the “disappointment it has caused” and pledged to “rectify this situation.”

In an update to the community on Wednesday, the superintendent specifically apologized 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 [East Brunswick] community,” according to local reports.

“We do not tolerate bias and we investigate all reported antisemitism,” he explained.

The incident comes at a time when antisemitism in both K-12 and higher education has been skyrocketing to record levels amid the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, which began when Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists invaded southern on Israel on Oct. 7, murdered 1,200 people, and took more than 250 hostages.

In the US last year, antisemitic incidents at K-12 schools increased by 135 percent, while such outrages on university campuses soared by a staggering 321 percent, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Overall, antisemitism in the US surged to catastrophic and unprecedented levels in 2023, rising a harrowing 140 percent. The majority of the incidents occurred in the aftermath of Oct. 7, when the ADL recorded a steep rise in antisemitic outrages.

Schools have been major hubs of the spike in antisemitism.

Last month, the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) opened an investigation into the Berkeley Unified School District in California based on a complaint that it has allowed “severe and persistent” antisemitism since Oct. 7, with Jewish students experiencing bullying and harassment.

In January, OCR also opened an investigation into the Oakland Unified School District after it hosted a “teach-in” that gave educators guidance on how to address Israel and the Middle Eastern conflict in their classrooms. Resources included the website “Decolonize Palestine,” which claims Israel is not a democracy and does not have the right to exist. It also claims the creation of the state of Israel was a result of the “transference of Europe’s guilt onto the Palestinians.”

The teach-in also promoted the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement — which seeks to isolate Israel from the international community as a step toward the Jewish state’s eventual elimination — and a documentary that falsely claims Israel wants to take over not only the West Bank and Gaza, but also parts of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq.