Parents are angry after students at the elite Beacon School in New York City were asked to hold a moment of silence for 60 Palestinians who were killed by Israeli soldiers, the New York Post reported.
How did the Jewish community respond?
The Zionist Organization of America, a pro-Israel group, said it plans to send a letter to the Beacon School demanding an apology, the report stated.
“It is disgraceful to mourn the death of Hamas terrorists,” said Morton Klein, the organization’s president.
Parents said they viewed the moment of silence as being anti-Jewish.
“I am extremely upset because I did not send my child to a New York City public school to pray for Hamas operatives,” a father, who is Jewish, told the Post.
Students said an announcement about the moment of silence was broadcast over the school’s intercom system on Tuesday.
“As a Jewish student, I could see a lot of my Jewish friends get very weird when the moment of silence started,” Sophie Steinberg, a junior from Brooklyn, told the Post. “They don’t know how to feel. They don’t know how to fit into all of this.”
Violence erupted along the Gaza border on Monday and a Hamas leader later confirmed that 50 of the 62 people killed belonged to the militant Islamic group. The rest were “from the people,” the report stated.
Monday also marked the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
The U.S. has labeled Hamas as a terrorist group, and has supported Israel in the conflict along the Gaza border.
“I just don’t think any school should be promoting a moment of silence for terrorists. What if it was Islamic terrorists in ISIS?” a student’s mother, who is Jewish, said. “No school would be having that over the loudspeaker.”
The college preparatory school, located in the Hell’s Kitchen area of Manhattan, is liberal-leaning, the Post reported. When President Donald Trump’s victory was announced in November 2016, some teachers gave their students permission to walk out of the school.
What else did students say?
Students said such silent tributes at the school are rare. They told the Post they paused for the victims of the Parkland High School massacre. That took place during a school walkout against gun violence in March.
Steinberg said Tuesday’s moment of silence reflects the school willingness to bring up controversial or hurtful topics.
“I think that’s Beacon’s nature — to not be divisive but to bring up the things that no one wants to talk about,” she told the Post.
Another student disagreed with her assessment.
“I wish there was that conversation afterwards,” said Fortune Ndombo, a junior from Manhattan. “There was no follow-up.”
Some parents said the principal has not yet responded to their requests for an explanation. The Post indicated it did not immediately receive a response from the school.
“We support civic engagement and advocacy amongst students, and encourage schools to provide inclusive environments where students are able to respectfully discuss current events,” a U.S. Department of Education spokesman told the Post.