Teenagers in the Ocean County town of Jackson posted a series of anti-Semitic messages on Twitter, drawing sharp condemnation from the Anti-Defamation League.
Neither the tweeters — all juveniles — nor their school were identified by name. Although they may face discipline by school authorities, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office determined the tweets did not amount to a credible threat. No criminal charges have been filed against the students.
The offensive tweets were discovered last month by an anonymous member of the next-door community of Lakewood who monitors bigotry on social media. Lakewood includes a large Orthodox Jewish population.
Among the tweets was one that said, “I really wanna drive around Lakewood and run over every Jew with my car.” In another, a teen, the daughter of an unidentified State Police sergeant, was dressed as Adolf Hitler and shown extending her right arm in a Nazi salute. Its caption read “1944: crematorium crew.”
Another photo, showing Orthodox Jews seated outside an Italian ice shop in Jackson, bore a caption reading “perfect bombing time.”
Joshua Cohen, ADL’s New Jersey regional director, called the tweets “alarming and outrageous.”
“They are examples of the power of social media to propel hate-filled bigotry, not just around the clock but around the world,” he said in a phone interview. “It is important for government officials and civic and religious leaders and school administrators to forcefully and publicly condemn this type of anti-Jewish hate.”
Cohen said the ADL has “reached out to the Jackson school district and is ready to assist them to address not only the immediate issue but any other consequences resulting from this issue. I hope these students will not be doing this again,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Jackson Township School District told the Asbury Park Press that the district notified law enforcement concerning the tweets, but she declined to discuss if the daughter of the state police officer would be disciplined.
“I think for people to say, ‘This might just be kids being kids,’ regardless of the fact this might be teenagers exercising poor judgment,” said Cohen, “the onus is now on members of the community — parents, schools, civic and religious leaders, and government officials — to take a long, hard look at what kids are saying on social media.”
Cohen said such incidents “underscore and highlight three larger issues that are ongoing in the community. One is with the teenagers’ trivialization of Hitler and Nazis and anti-Semitism. The second is the abuse of social media by teens. The third issue we need to look at is the lack of oversight of social media by parents.”
Cohen suggested that people in Jackson “try to build relationships with the Lakewood community.”