No, a Jewish family did not ‘flee’ after being accused of canceling Christmas play

This Friday, the Anti-Defamation League released a statement saying that reports from numerous media outlets of a family leaving town as a result of the Fox News and Breitbart articles are untrue. According to the ADL, the family left town on a previously planned vacation.

“News reports alleging that a Jewish family has ‘fled’ Lancaster County are untrue and damaging,” Nancy Baron-Baer, regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, said in the statement. “We spoke with the family, who explained that they went on a previously-planned vacation for the holidays. Stories like this can sow fear in the Jewish community and beyond, and it is important to stop the spread of misinformation.”

This Thursday, Lancaster Online had published a story quoting an unidentified family as saying they were being blamed for the cancelation of the annual fifth-grade production of “A Christmas Carol” at Centerville Elementary in the Hempfield School District, and had left the area out of fear of retribution.

But on Friday morning, Lancaster Online posted the following update:

This story has been amended to reflect further comments from the parents of a Centerville Elementary School student who removed their child from class over concerns for their and their child’s safety. The parents told the Anti-Defamation League Thursday they were traveling on a previously planned vacation. The family told [Lancaster Newspapers] and LancasterOnline their child was being harassed and blamed for the cancellation of “A Christmas Carol,” and that they were concerned for their and their child’s safety. LNP and LancasterOnline stand by the original reporting on this story.

Numerous outlets, including DeadState, ran with Lancaster Online’s original account.

Speaking to Slate, Baer said she “did not contest ‘the actual story content,’ including the fact that the family was disturbed by reactions to false media reports blaming the parents for the cancellation of the play. Rather, the ADL objected to the word ‘fled,’ which ‘conjures up a very scary scenario,’ such as ‘Syrian refugees fleeing the country with the shirt on their back.’”

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