Newton Mayor Setti Warren
Newton Mayor Setti Warren Brian Snyder/Reuters

With increased anti-Semitic activity across New England, Jewish and Israeli residents of Newton, Massachusetts, met with Mayor Setti Warren to voice their concerns regarding incidents in the town’s school system.

The forum, attended by about 150 people, was organized to discuss several acts of anti-Semitic vandalism at a Newton school that had gone unreported in late February, and to devise a plan to address the “ignorance and hate” behind the acts and “anti-Israel bias” in the local public school curriculum.

According to the New England Anti-Defamation League, there have been 61 anti-Semitic incidents in various states in New England in 2015, and 56 since the start of 2016.

Opening the conversation, Israeli American Council (IAC) co-chair Ilan Segev had a simple message for Mayor Warren regarding anti-Semitism: “Never again.”

“We are concerned here in Newton, because this is not just a single event, not just a sporadic kid spraying graffiti in a bathroom. It happens on the basketball court, it happens in the classroom, it happens everywhere,” said Segev, who accused Newton school officials of “sweeping [anti-Semitism] under the rug.”

The Jewish population in Newton is estimated at roughly 28,000, about one-third of the total population.

Mayor Warren, who was introduced by Segev as “a true friend of Israel, and a true friend of our community,” called anti-Semitism “an attack and a scourge against the Jewish people,”

Warren, who traveled to Israel three times in the past four years, spoke of the steps he has taken in response to recent anti-Jewish hate incidents.

In response to demands for “transparency” and “accountability” in the school district’s curriculum, Warren said that while he is one of nine members of the School Committee, it is the Superintendent who is responsible for the curriculum.