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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Antisemitism on the Beach?

I was suprised to see the allegations that were raised in this piece in today's NY Times:
For decades, the elite Jones Beach lifeguard corps has presided over the renowned stretch of Long Island shoreline as an unwavering symbol of safety and courage. With their tanned, toned physiques perched atop their stands, the lifeguards are seen as models of fitness and efficiency on team rescues, protecting bathers, enforcing safety rules and working together to save lives.

But this summer their ranks have been roiled by a growing controversy over complaints from a group of Jewish lifeguards who say they have been harassed, unfairly disciplined and made the subject of a police investigation instigated by beach administrators.
The article goes on to enumerate various claims of discrimination that are being made by a group of Jewish Jones Beach lifeguards.
At least six Jewish lifeguards say they have been seized upon by administrators who have fabricated petty infractions and used the State Park Police to “appear to intimidate and persecute lifeguards the state wants to get rid of,” said Roy J. Lester, a weekend lifeguard who is also a leader of the lifeguard union at Jones Beach and nearby Robert Moses State Park.

Two Jewish lifeguards, he said, were being investigated by the State Park Police regarding the legitimacy of their CPR certification.

Two other Jewish lifeguards were accused of insubordination and threatened with arrest after they walked into an administrator’s office without shoes on Memorial Day weekend to complain about a lack of lifeguards on a section of Jones Beach, Mr. Lester said. Another Jewish lifeguard, a 68-year-old captain and union activist with 49 years on the job, said that because he was denied leave for a medical condition, he failed to complete his lifeguard recertification test this spring, and was not allowed to work this summer.
The Jewish lifeguards claim that something other than coincidence is at work here. That may well be the case. But it just seems strange to me that a beach that serves New York City and Long Island - locales with extremely high and very visible Jewish populations - would attach any sort of significance to the religious persuasion of their lifeguards. Though I am well aware that discrimination can rear its ugly head anywhere, it just seems likely to me that there is more to the story than simple antisemitism.

For example, some of the charges leveled at the Jewish lifeguards are allegations of falsifying CPR certifications. Now, if this charge proves true, that's quite a serious charge, and certainly worthy of investigation. And while it does seem coincidental, if, as the Jewish lifeguard group claims, these charges are only being made against the Jewish lifeguards, I think we need more information. Are there other, non-Jewish lifeguards who have possibly falsified their certifications yet have not been charged?

To me, there just seem to be other issues here - a labor dispute is mentioned in the article, but not expanded upon. The article is actually quite short on clarity altogether.

Honestly, from what I can decipher from the article, the claim seems spurious to me. What really amazes me, though, is that the NY Times actually printed these hazy allegations.

6 Comments:

Blogger Goy Guy said...

"Another Jewish lifeguard, a 68-year-old captain and union activist with 49 years on the job..."

Somehow I think 'union activist' might be all we need to know about this. I'm only guessing here, but I think it's fair to say that in the last 75 years there have been hundreds of Jewish lifeguards at Jones Beach. After all, Robert Moses, the guy that built it was Jewish. Of course he WAS racist, but certainly not anti-semetic. It was those colored folks he didn't like.

11:41 PM  
Blogger muse said...

Wow, forgot that world. I haven't been to Jones Beach for almost 40 years.
We have our pool here in Shiloh with local lifeguards, male for the males and females for the females.
One is even my very own son!

5:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

was the life gaurd a frum one at a mixed beach oyyyy veyyyyy

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jews should not be at the beach to begin with !! It is completely tummah!

3:05 PM  
Blogger FrumWithQuestions said...

What is a 68 year old doing being a lifeguard at that age? Would you trust them? Did all of these Jewish lifeguards get their CPR certification from the same place? If so mayber the person who gave them is being investigated as well not just the lifeguards. I think that this is just coincedence because if these lifeguards were not wearing yamulkas and do not have Jewish sounding names, how would it be known that they are Jewish? Is it possible this is another frivoulous lawsuit and Chillul Hashem or is it possible that it is not and really is Anti-semitism? I hope that there is an update to follow up on this story.

4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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8:36 PM  

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