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California School District Accused of Ignoring ‘Pervasive’ Antisemitism

Illustrative Activists calling themselves the United Front for Liberation lead march through Valley Plaza Mall. The ‘Ceasefire’ rally began at Wilson Park in Bakersfield, California, on Saturday December 16, 2023. Photo: Jacob Lee Green via REUTERS CONNECT

Antisemitism in the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) in California has caused severe psychological trauma to Jewish students as young as eight years old and fostered a hostile learning environment, a new civil rights complaint filed on Wednesday by the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) alleges.

The problem exploded after Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, the suit says. Since then, BUSD teachers have allegedly used their classrooms to promote antisemitic tropes about Israel, weaponizing disciplines such as art and history to convince unsuspecting minors that Israel is a “settler-colonial” apartheid state committing a genocide of Palestinians. While this took place, high level BUSD officials allegedly ignored complaints about discrimination and tacitly approved hateful conduct even as it spread throughout the student body.

At Berkeley High School, for example, a history teacher forced students to explain why Israel is an apartheid state and screened an anti-Zionist documentary. The teacher sharply squelched dissent, telling a Jewish student who raised concerns about the content of her lessons that only anti-Zionist narratives matter in her classroom and that any other which argues that Israel isn’t an apartheid state is “laughable.” Elsewhere in the school, an art teacher, whose name is redacted from the complaint for matters of privacy, displayed anti-Israel artworks in his classroom, one of which showed a fist punching through a Star of David.

Teachers even attempted to intimidate Jewish parents who complained, the complaint continues. Just days after Oct. 7, a second-grade teacher, who hung a Palestinian flag in the window of her classroom after Oct. 7, threatened the family of a concerned father after learning he had formally complained about her conduct. “I know who you are, I know who you f— wife is, and I know where you live,” the teacher said to him at a school event. Later, in a Facebook post, the teacher defended her politicization of the classroom, proclaiming, “I’ve been a non-neutral educator for all 20 years I’ve been a teacher.”

“The eruption of of antisemitism in Berkeley’s elementary and high schools is like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” Brandeis Center chairman and former Assistant Secretary of Education Kenneth Marcus said in a press release. “It is dangerous enough to see faculty fanning the flames of antisemitism on college campuses, but to see teachers inciting hate in the youngest grades while Berkeley administrators sit idly by as it continues to escalate by the day is reprehensible. Where is the accountability? Where are the people who are supposed to protect and educate students?”

At several schools throughout BUSD, students were recruited to assist anti-Zionists teachers in cheering Hamas’ atrocities as “liberation.” They were called called on to join “walk outs” and rewarded with excused absences in return for their participation, another violation of district policy forbidding excused absences for all but the most important reasons. These demonstrations became salvos of antisemitic rhetoric. During one organized at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, students shouted “KKK,” “Kill Israel,” “Kill the Jews,” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” In another incident, the second-grade teacher who threatened a parent instructed her students to write “Stop bombing babies” on sticky notes.

The behavior of BUSD teachers and the benefits they offered in exchange for engaging in antisemitic behavior sent a strong signal to students that hating Jews is normal, socially acceptable behavior, the complaint explains. Acting on such approval, they proceeded to bully Jewish students with impunity. “You have a big nose because you are a stupid Jew,” a Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School student told their Jewish classmate. Another called a Jewish student a “midget Jew,” and throughout the district it became trend to ask Jewish students if they have a “number,” an allusion to tattoos given to Jewish concentration camp prisoners during the Holocaust.

In almost every case investigations of teacher misconduct and bullying never led to disciplinary measures. School administrators removed Jewish students from the classrooms of demagogic instructors instead of enforcing policy which safeguards the classroom against politics and discrimination. Student perpetrators of antisemitism evaded punishment. The result was that parents were powerless to rectify the situation and Jewish students, left with no option but to register for new courses, fell behind in their lessons. Others, fearing that they would be “jumped” or subject to academic retaliation, became truant or transferred to new schools.

“It is beyond deplorable that in a moment of rising antisemitism both here in the US and abroad that teachers and administrators at BUSD are falling down in their obligation to protect our Jewish students,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said. “There is no more solemn or basic obligation than protecting our children from the moment when they walk into the doors of their schools, and to fail so monumentally that children feel forced to hide their Jewish identity for rear of reprisal is downright shocking. We must demand more from our educational leaders.”

In a statement sent to The Algemeiner on Wednesday, BUSD said it is aware that “some members of our community” have experienced “pain” because of the “ongoing crisis in Israel in Gaza.” Its statement made no mention of antisemitism.

“The district continuously encourages students and families to report any incidents of bullying or hate-motivated behavior and vigorously investigates each and every report,” the district added. “While we have not received official notification of the recent federal complaint, the district will work with the Office of Civil Rights in support of a thorough investigation. We remain committed to engaging with our community to ensure that BUSD is a district that lives up to its values of excellence, engagement, equity, and enrichment.”

After receiving an inquiry about the school’s policies on antisemitism, BUSD later sent The Algemeiner a second statement which said, “Berkeley Unified stands against all forms of hate, including hate motivated behavior and speech. We stand against antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and all forms of discrimination, bullying, and harassment.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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Assault charge laid, arrest made related to incident near the University of Toronto encampment—while its president speaks in Ottawa on antisemitism, and the school seeks a removal injunction

Toronto Police have arrested and charged a man for assault over an incident May 9 near the protest encampment at the University of Toronto’s King’s College Circle on its downtown campus.  Toronto Police Services (TPS) say they responded at 3:45 p.m. that day to a call for assault in the area of the road around […]

The post Assault charge laid, arrest made related to incident near the University of Toronto encampment—while its president speaks in Ottawa on antisemitism, and the school seeks a removal injunction appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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‘Any Chance the Media Would Cover This?’ New Video Shows Terrorists in Gaza Using Humanitarian Aid to Help Prepare Rockets

Terrorists in Gaza using humanitarian aid bags to prop up rockets. Photo: Screenshot

Terrorists in Gaza have been using humanitarian aid bags to prop up rockets they were preparing to shoot at Israelis, new video circulating on social media reveals, underscoring the challenges of delivering aid to Palestinian civilians in the Hamas-ruled enclave without it being stolen.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade — which is the armed wing of Fatah, the political party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbasused bags from Turkey and UNRWA — the UN agency responsible for the Palestinians — to prop up the rockets, according to the video.

At least three of the bags say they contain “wheat flour,” and the bag from Turkey specifically says it is supposed to go “to the Palestinian people.” It is unclear whether the bags had previously been opened to extract the food and then refilled with sand, for example, or if it still contained the food that was intended to feed Palestinian civilians.

“Any chance the media would cover this, yet another violation of international humanitarian law?” pro-Israel commentator Hen Mazzig wrote on X/Twitter while sharing the video.

Rafah, Gaza: Hamas is using UN humanitarian aid bags as rocket launchers today.

Any chance the media would cover this, yet another, violation of International Humanitarian Law?

— Hen Mazzig (@HenMazzig) May 29, 2024

Almost every day for the past seven months, Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist organizations have been shooting rockets into Israel from civilian areas, which is a war crime. Tens of thousands of Israelis are internally displaced and unable to return to their homes as a result.

There is mounting evidence that Hamas has also operated in civilian clothing and in civilian infrastructure such as hospitals. However, these violations of international law are rarely noted by much of the media.

The latest video of terrorists using humanitarian aid for military purposes underscores the issue of making sure such aid gets to Palestinian civilians. 

The US built a pier to deliver 2,000,000 meals daily to Palestinian civilians, but after a few weeks of operation, the Pentagon said none of the aid unloaded from the pier had made it to those who needed it. On one occasion, about 70 percent of the aid has been stolen while en route to a UN warehouse. In other cases, it just never showed up.

Israeli estimates suggest approximately 60 percent of the aid that has gone into Gaza has been stolen — either by Hamas or other groups and individuals. Oftentimes, that aid is then sold to the population at high prices, making it difficult to impossible for most Gazans to gain access to it. 

According to Ehud Yaari, an expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Hamas has made more than $500 million in profit from selling humanitarian aid since Oct. 7.

The terror group began the war last October by massacring 1,200 people in Israel and taking more than 250 people hostage, about half of whom have still not been released.

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Columbia University Anti-Zionist Group Endorses Hamas

Demonstrators take part in an anti-Israel demonstration at the Columbia University campus, in New York City, US, Feb. 2, 2024. REUTERS/David Dee Delgado

Columbia University’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) has endorsed Hamas, a US-designated terrorist organization, the latest sign of its growing extremism and willingness to embrace antisemitic violence.

“The Palestinian resistance is the only force materially fighting back against isr*el [sic],” the group said in a series of posts shared by Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus, a social media account which exposes antisemitism on college campuses. “There is no way to eliminate the resistance without ending the occupation. When you see a video of a young palestinian [sic] boy traumatized in a hospital talking about how iof [the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF] shot his pregnant mother in cold blood in front of his own eyes, do not question how he chooses to resist years later.”

.@Columbia and @BarnardCollege, @ColumbiaSJP is actively promoting terrorism and anti-Israel rhetoric on their social media channels. They are sounding more and more like Hamas spokespeople every day. When is the university going to permanently ban this “student group”?

— Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus (@CampusJewHate) May 26, 2024

Campus Reform, a higher education watchdog which first reported Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus’ posts, noted that Columbia SJP has added an “inverted red triangle” to its social media biography, further indicating its support for Hamas. The Palestinian terrorist group has used an inverted red triangle in its propaganda videos to indicate an Israeli target about to be attacked, and anti-Israel protesters on university campuses have been using the symbol in their demonstrations.

Columbia SJP, a group that has reformed under multiple organizations since being suspended by school administrators during the fall semester, has been central in staging a slew of riotous demonstrations in which anti-Zionist activists verbally assaulted Jewish students with antisemitic epithets, clamorously expressed support for terrorism and Hamas, and caused thousands of dollars in damages to school property.

The group’s behavior after Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the StandWithUs Center for League Justice (SCLJ).

The complaint alleges that after bullying Jewish students and rubbing their noses in the carnage Hamas wrought on their people, the pro-Hamas students were still unsatisfied and resulted to violence. They beat up five Jewish students in Columbia’s Butler Library, according to the lawsuit. Another attacked a Jewish students with a stick, lacerating his head and breaking his finger, after being asked to return missing persons posters she had stolen.

Following the incidents, pleas for help allegedly went unanswered and administrators told Jewish students they could not guarantee their safety while SJP held its demonstrations. The school’s apparent powerlessness to prevent anti-Jewish violence was cited as the reason why Students Supporting Israel (SSI), a recognized school club, was denied permission to hold an event on self-defense. Events with “buzzwords” such as “Israel” and “Palestine” were forbidden, administrators allegedly said, but SJP continued to host events while no one explained the inconsistency.

The explosion of end-of-year protests held by the group forced Columbia officials to shutter the campus in April and institute virtual learning. Later, the group occupied Hamilton Hall, forcing President Minouche Shafik to call on the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for help, a decision she hesitated to make. According to The Columbia Spectator, over 108 arrests were made.

“Yes, we’re all Hamas, pig!” one protester was filmed screaming during the fracas, which saw some verbal skirmishes between pro-Zionist and anti-Zionist partisans. “Long live Hamas!” said others who filmed themselves dancing and praising the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization. “Kill another solider!”

Amid the chaos, a prominent rabbi at the school urged Jewish students to leave the campus for the sake of their safety. Ultimately, the university cancelled its main commencement ceremony.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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