A New York City middle school principal is under fire for telling teachers and administrators to "take action" against Israel and make a "public commitment to Palestinian liberation." Principal Amanda Bueno emailed staffers at MS 136 in Brooklyn a list of actions they should take to support Palestine in the most recent Israel-Gaza conflict.
The email in question, which is titled "Day of Action in Solidarity with The Palestinian Uprising & General Strike," urged teachers to demand sanctions on Israel from U.S. government officials.
"Yesterday was the Day of Action in Solidarity with the Palestinian Uprising & General Strike. If you have been watching the news in absolute horror, you are not alone," Bueno began the email, which was published by the New York Post.
"You can take action today by protesting, attending a vigil, making a public commitment to Palestinian Liberation, signing a petition, or calling your government officials to place sanctions on Israel," Bueno wrote on Wednesday morning.
"The time is now to take a stand for those impacted by state-sanctioned violence and crimes against the humanity of the most vulnerable in our world," the email read. "We need not prove their humanity and right to exist for us to spread awareness about these issues. Empathy is the bare minimum."
The email included a list of links and resources to enable teachers to take action against Israel and support Palestinians.
"Here are some notes and resources from the Institute for Anti-Racist Education," the principal wrote.
An MS 136 teacher, who is Jewish, told the New York Post, "I opened the email and I was in shock. I felt very targeted and very attacked by her words."
"These resources she provided, it's propaganda," the teacher added. "There was nothing in the email about Hamas rockets targeting innocent Israeli civilians."
Lawyer Inna Vernikov sent a letter to the New York Department of Education calling for Bueno to be punished.
"New York law forbids requesting or encouraging any public servant, city employee, or subordinate public servant/employee to engage in political activities," Vernikov wrote.
StopAntisemitism.org, a non-profit foundation that "works to hold antisemites accountable," stated, "NY law forbids encouraging any public servant or city employee from engaging in politics. This didn't stop Brooklyn Middle School 136 Principal Amanda Bueno from sending out a school wide email titled 'Day of Action in Solidarity with The Palestinian Uprising & General Strike.'"
New York City Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter said Bueno made "a clear exercise of poor judgment."
"The MS 136 principal must apologize for her email," Porter tweeted. "This was a clear exercise of poor judgment & we will take appropriate follow-up action. We must teach complex current events without bringing our political activities or beliefs into the classroom."
Nathaniel Steyer, a spokesman for the Department of Education, said, "The matter is being addressed internally and was referred to [the special commissioner of investigation] for further investigation."
"Schools are not public forums for purposes of political expression, and staff may not use DOE resources in the furtherance of personal or political activities," Steyer added.