Alya Mehrtash staff writer
Students at Newport Harbor High School (NHHS) were pictured at a party posing before a display of solo cups strategically arranged in the shape of a swastika, as they extended their arms in a Nazi salute. When the photos surfaced online, there was a massive outpouring of criticism across the nation.
“While these actions did not occur on any school campus or school function, we condemn all acts of anti-semitism and hate in all other forms,” they said. “We remain focused on educating students on all aspects of life’s challenges and are committed to holding students accountable, educating them on the consequences of their choices, and the impact these actions have on our schools and community at large.”
Representatives of the NHHS Associated Student Body (ASB) also posted a message to their Instagram account on Sunday, criticizing the actions of their classmates and urging community members to unite in support of the Jewish community.
“We would like to say that any negativity due to any type of persecution is utterly wrong, unacceptable, and will not be tolerated. To all those negatively affected, you have our deepest apologies. With all the bad out there, we will and [we] encourage everyone to turn to goodness, kindness, and respect over hatred,” they wrote. “We must be lights of positivity in the darkness by standing with, and more importantly, up for any victims of injustice and discrimination. We will stand together with all of you as a force and voice of goodness, so that our school may continue to be the place of happiness, respect, and positivity we intend it to be.”
The incident led to a large amount of criticism from Beverly students, who took to social media to express their opinions. Sophomore Holden Levy was one of the many students who was upset by the photograph.
“It is devastating to hear about such disrespect, especially at a time and age where respect is such an important part of our lives,” Levy said.
Sophomore Jasmine Amin felt that this occurrence opened her eyes to the religious intolerance that still exists today.
“[The students’] anti-semitic actions were sickening. The death of six million Jews and numerous others is not a matter to be joked about. Over seven million people were gruesomely tortured…This incident also makes me fear for the future. Holocaust survivors are dying and we have to share their stories,” Amin said. “Before this incident, I was not fully aware of the extent of anti-semitic actions all over the world and this has really opened my eyes to the sad reality that exists everywhere.”
Many students, including junior Michaela Forouzan, were particularly offended that it was seen by some as a joke.
“Generations of Jewish families and communities were destroyed from the Holocaust and for students of our new generation to be making a joke of it is shocking,” Forouzan said.
Amin has found that many are on the same page as her when it comes to this situation, yet there are still people who are amused by it.
“While a majority of people that I have spoken to agree that this is an atrocious act, I am saddened at the people that find this funny. I cannot comprehend what someone thinks when they laugh at a situation like this. Are the lives of six million people funny? The answer should be simple, but evidently it is not to some people,” she said.
She emphasized the fact that these acts of bigotry should not be accepted, and that everyone must come together to stop it.
“We, as a Jewish people, have faced a lot and the Holocaust was the very worst of it,” Amin said. “We, as humans, cannot let this happen again and it should not be tolerated.”