Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), a school division in Northern Virginia, has been sharply criticized for allegedly suspending an Asian-American student who exposed antisemitism at his high school.
School officials accused a student at Langley High School of leaking to the public a photograph of other students drawing and holding for display a US flag in which its stars were replaced with 25 swastikas and the words “Free Palestine” were written in between the stripes, the Fairfax County Times reported. The image had been drawn during a meeting of the Muslim Students Association.
The image was shared across the school, as anti-Israel students staged a “walkout” earlier this month, carrying another sign with swastikas on it and chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” — a slogan widely interpreted to be a call for the destruction of Israel, which is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
Langley school administrators reportedly suspended two students: the Muslim student who drew the swastikas on the US flag and an Asian-American student whom school officials said had publicized the photo that was widely circulated on social media.
Parents and local leaders expressed outrage at the school for disciplining a student for reporting antisemitism, arguing it will deter others from coming forward to expose such bigotry. On Friday, parents held a demonstration outside FCPS’s administrative building in Falls Church, Virginia, to protest both the student’s suspension and what they described as unheeded concerns about rising antisemitism in FCPS schools going back several years.
“What really has upset me about this is that the only way that they can prove that there is something is to take a picture, and then the student got suspended for taking a picture,” one parent of a student attending Langley High School told a local CBS affiliate covering the protest. “There’s a history of trying to silence or not allowing these images to come to fruition to show that we have a problem here.
FCPS has denied suspending the student for exposing an act of antisemitism.
“No student at Langley High School was suspended for reporting an incident of antisemitism to school administrators,” FCPS superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid told WUSA. “We will continue to denounce all acts of antisemitism, Islamophobia, and hatred in any form.”
Speaking to WUSA9, Eric Rozenman, a Jewish activist and writer, alleged that the country can plausibly deny suspending a student for reporting antisemitism because its student code of conduct is a mammoth document comprising vague rules and regulations, many of which can be cited as sufficient cause for sending a student home.
“They can make that claim because they have a long list of bureaucratic regulations in the student handbook about what is and isn’t permitted,” Rozenman said, explaining that the incident is an example of the FCPS’ allegedly insufficient approach to addressing antisemitism, an issue that is currently being probed by the federal government.
In Nov. 2022, the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) launched an investigation into a complaint, filed by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), alleging that Jewish students in the county continually face harassment and a hostile learning environment. Chants of “Heil Hitler,” swastika graffiti, and scheduling of important tests on Jewish holidays are some of the indignities Jewish students have endured without recourse to school officials, the complaint said.
The complaint also alleged that antisemites work for the school board, hampering FCPS’s ability to confront the scope of the problem and enact meaningful reforms. In May 2021, during Israel’s last conflict with Hamas, FCPS official Abrar Omeish tweeted, “Israel kills Palestinians & desecrates the Holy Land…apartheid & colonization were wrong yesterday and will be today, here and there.”
“We want [FCPS] to be able to recognize what is antisemitic and anti-Jewish in the first place,” Rozenman said during Friday’s demonstration. “Take it just as seriously as they would take something that was anti-Black, anti-gay, or anti-Muslim. This is the thing they’re not doing. They can’t recognize it or don’t want to act.”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
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Protester Sets Self on Fire Outside Israeli Consulate in Atlanta
i24 News – A protester was in critical condition on Friday after setting themself on fire outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. authorities said. A security guard who tried to intervene was also wounded.
A Palestinian flag found at the scene was part of the protest, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said at a news conference. He added that investigators did not believe there was any connection to terrorism and none of the consular staff was ever in danger.
JUST IN: A pro-Palestine protester is in critical condition after they set themselves on fire in “political protest” outside of the Israeli Consulate office in Atlanta.
The protester was reportedly draped in a Palestine flag.
The protester has severe burns and unfortunately, a… pic.twitter.com/B8nUQAj2nU
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) December 1, 2023
“We do not see any threat here,” he said. “We believe it was an act of extreme political protest that occurred.” Everyone inside the consulate building was said to be safe.
Anat Sultan-Dadon, Consul General of Israel to the southeastern U.S., said: “We are saddened to learn of the self-immolation at the entrance to the office building. It is tragic to see the hate and incitement toward Israel expressed in such a horrific way.”
“The sanctity of life is our highest value. Our prayers are with the security officer who was injured while trying to prevent this tragic act. We are grateful to the city of Atlanta’s law enforcement and first responders for all they do to ensure safety.”
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Released Israeli Hostages Call for Captives to Be Freed
Israeli hostages released in the past week by Hamas in Gaza called on Saturday for the immediate release of fellow captives left behind, a day after a temporary truce that had allowed scores to come home broke down.
Tens of thousands gathered at a rally in Tel Aviv outside Israel‘s defense headquarters, where they cheered Yelena Trupanov, 50, standing on a stage just two days after being freed.
“I came to thank you because without you I wouldn’t be here. Now we must bring back my (son) Sasha, and everyone. Now.”
Similar pleas from other released hostages were shown on video.
A seven-day truce, during which Hamas had released more than 100 hostages, collapsed on Friday after Hamas breached the ceasefire.
Israel said on Saturday it had recalled a Mossad intelligence agency team from Qatar, host of indirect negotiations with Hamas, accusing the Palestinian faction of reneging on a deal that would have freed all children and women held hostage.
More than 240 people – Israelis and foreign nationals – were abducted to Gaza on Oct 7. by Hamas terrorists who burst through the border with Israel and killed 1,200 people.
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IDF Foils Stabbing Attack Near Nablus in West Bank, Eliminates Terrorist
i24 News – The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported thwarting a stabbing attack on Saturday afternoon against reserve Battalion 7037 at the X junction near Nablus in the West Bank.
According to the IDF spokesperson, the event unfolded when the forces at the roadblock became suspicious of an individual approaching the barricade.
During the questioning process, the suspect suddenly drew a knife and advanced towards the IDF personnel.
ניסיון פיגוע דקירה אירע לפני זמן קצר לעבר כוח צה”ל במילואים מגדוד 7037 שפעל בחסם בצומת האיקס סמוך לעיר שכם שבמרחב חטיבת שומרון.
הכוח חשד במחבל שהגיע לחסם והחל לתחקר אותו, המחבל שלף סכין והחל להתקדם לעבר הכוח.
הלוחמים חתרו למגע והגיבו בירי לעבר המחבל שחוסל. אין נפגעים לכוחותינו. pic.twitter.com/mEaJs58hpE
— דובר צה״ל דניאל הגרי – Daniel Hagari (@IDFSpokesperson) December 2, 2023
The soldiers, faced with the threat, engaged in contact procedures and ultimately responded by opening fire on the assailant. The spokesperson confirmed that the attacker was neutralized due to the IDF’s action.
It was also noted that there were no casualties among the IDF forces involved in the incident. According to the spokesperson, the situation at the X junction has stabilized, and IDF continues to maintain vigilance in the area to prevent further attacks.
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