01 September 2006
Jewish lifeguards draw line in the sand
Leader of lifeguards’ union at Jones Beach levels accusations of anti-Semitism against state parks officials
BY WILLIAM MURPHY
Newsday Staff Writer
August 31, 2006
A leader of the lifeguards' union at Jones Beach has accused state officials who run the beach of singling out Jewish lifeguards for discipline.
Some of the lifeguards in question are also active in the union, according to the leader, Roy Lester, but he said the pattern is clear.
"Fact. The vast majority of our lifeguards are not Jewish. Fact: The vast majority of all threatened disciplines and denials of rights this year have been to lifeguards who are Jewish," Lester, 56, who is not Jewish, said in a weekly union newsletter earlier this month.
In another newsletter, he said that "it seems that blatant anti-Semitism is encouraged" in the agency -- the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
The agency issued a statement yesterday calling the allegations "baseless and irresponsible."
The statement did not dispute many of the specifics that have been cited in union newsletters during the past month by Lester, a bankruptcy attorney who has been a weekend lifeguard for almost 40 years.
Lester, who is a member of the school board of the City of Long Beach, is the chief negotiator for the lifeguards, who belong to the New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association.
He said that shortly after the start of the beach season, two members of the executive board, who are Jewish, were threatened with arrest for going into the administrative offices without shoes.
There were several other incidents, he said, but the one that started him thinking about anti-Semitism occurred earlier this month over a lifeguard who was getting retrained after returning from the Maccabiah Games, an athletic competition in Israel.
The state parks office initiated a police investigation because of the dating on the certificate for the lifeguard, who had missed the regular retraining class and was retrained by another lifeguard, Lester said.
Both the lifeguard and instructor were Jewish, said Lester, who did not know what percentage of the 409 lifeguards were Jewish.
Some lifeguards have complained in the union newsletter, Bucket & Buoy, that there is not enough evidence to warrant an allegation of anti-Semitism. Lester, who edits the newsletter, said the fact that some Jewish lifeguards were not disciplined does not mean there isn't a problem.
"I didn't want to believe this problem existed. It took a lot before I would say this," Lester said.
Obama's true agenda...Throw Israel Under the Bus
JOHN VOIGHT ON OBAMA'S DISTAIN FOR ISRAEL
A message to the Jewish people and the entire world
Chronicles I - 16:15-18: "Forever remember His covenant that he commanded forever; That He made with Abraham and swore to Isaac; and confirmed in a decree for Jacob, for Israel, as an eternal covenant; saying to You I will give the Land of Cannan as your alloted heritage"