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Nassau, Suffolk Counties Join Forces To Combat Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes

GLEN COVE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Recent messages of hate on Long Island have leaders from both Nassau and Suffolk counties taking action.

They're forming a coalition to prevent hate crimes and educate young adults, CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis reports.

The Long Island leaders are joining forces to fight back against hate crimes after a recent rise, including two incidents at the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, where the island-wide anti-hate task force was unveiled.

"We cannot look away from the fact that bigotry, antisemitism and other forms of hatred seek to divide us, and we will not be divided," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Monday.

"We teach that the Holocaust did not start with concentration camps," Steven Markowitz told reporters Monday. "In the beginning, it was bullying, name calling, discrimination in schools and the workplace, and, yes, graffiti."

Markowitz, the center's chairman, held up pictures of the disturbing discovery made on its grounds last week -- two spray-painted swastikas, a symbol of hate and suffering.

MORE: Swastikas Found Spray-Painted At Long Island Holocaust Center In 2nd Vandalism Incident In 2 Weeks

In another incident in late November, a racial slur and defaced signs were found at the memorial to the million and a half children murdered in the Holocaust. Video from that incident shows four teens running from the property.

"The graffiti will be cleaned up, but much work needs to be done to make sure the perpetrators and others understand the significance of this desecration," said Markowitz.

That's what the task force will do -- focus on educating the public, especially youth, on what the symbols mean and what unchallenged intolerance can do.

MORE: Long Island Lawmakers Say Students Need To Be Taught About Swastika, Noose As Hate Symbols

"It is the kids who are the next generation, and it is our job to make sure that they understand the history here," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said. "We will repeat, the world will see again what we do not learn from our history."

The task force is in its early stages. It hasn't been formed yet, but CBS2 is told it will be rolled out in the coming weeks so the group can start getting to work to make the much needed change.

At Monday's news conference, the Anti-Defamation League shared staggering statistics: there were 340 anti-Semitic incidents in New York last year, with a 55% increase in assaults.

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