OCT. 11 UPDATE:
In response to the concerns discussed in this article, expressed by Brookline community members, the Brookline Public School Superintendent apologized and retracted his original letter. Images of the original letter and the retraction below the article.
As the full extent of the atrocities perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists in Israel is exposed, shocking the world with a show of barbarism akin to the Nazi slaughter of Jews, we are better able to expose antisemites, moral cowards and those who are uninformed and cannot differentiate between right and wrong, good and evil. They whitewash and conceal inhuman crimes or attempt to draw a moral equivalence between the savagery perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists and the legitimate war on terrorism by Israel, portraying it as a “cycle of violence” or entirely blaming the Jewish state for the current war. This seems to be the case in a number of school districts and education departments where teachers are given wrongheaded guidance about how to teach about events in the Middle East.
Take, for example, the case of Linus Guillory, Jr., the superintendent of Brookline public schools, who expressed the view that there is no moral clarity in the events in Israel and the territories. He sent out a letter to teachers suggesting that “there is no ‘right’ way to respond to a situation like this” and instructing teachers in the Brookline school community to “avoid sharing news articles with students” lest they be biased (presumably those that talk about the Palestinian-perpetrated massacres and kidnappings of Israeli youth and elderly, men, women and children). Instead, the superintendent referred teachers to anti-Israel sources that justify violence against Israelis and portray the Jewish state as an illegitimate, colonialist entity.
The savagery and butchery perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists in Israel, filmed by the perpetrators, posted on their social media, and celebrated in the streets of Gaza, has been widely confirmed both by independent news sources and on Palestinian social media. It includes accounts and film clips of the terrorists going house to house in Jewish communities, Nazi einzgruppen-style, to gun down entire families; targeting youth at an open-air concert, murdering, raping, torturing, burning alive, mutilating their victims and taking hostages; parading and abusing their Israeli hostages to the cheering and jeering of Palestinians in Gaza in large street-side celebrations, and more. Over 1200 Israelis were slaughtered and thousands of others injured in attacks that are justified by pro-Palestinian activists.
While many of the images and films of these events, like those that depicted Nazi barbarity, are too graphic, horrifying and frightening to be shown to young children, no reasonable or ethical teacher would countenance concealing news articles from students about the Holocaust, Nazi antisemitism, persecution and murder. Nor would they suggest that the Nazis’ brutalization of Jews be put into context that helps justify it or pretend that Nazi actions were no different than those of the armies and partisans that ultimately defeated them.
Yet the superintendent recommends sources of information to educate teachers that include “Decolonize Palestine” -- a radical anti-Israel site that justifies the use of violence by Palestinians against Israelis who are depicted as “settler-colonialists.” Superintendent Linus Guillory, Jr. promotes this resource as going “far deeper into historical issues, debunking myths, and …demonstrate[ing] how other claims can distract from evidence of abuses.”
Human Rights Watch, whose anti-Israel bias is well documented and so extreme that the organization was disavowed by its own founder, put out a report in April 2021 falsely charging Israel with apartheid. The report recycled long-debunked charges and falsehoods and was based on distortions and regurgitated propaganda. But this report is what the superintendent promotes to teachers as a “thorough report detailing their claims that the Israeli government’s practices violate international law and rise to the standard of apartheid and persecution.”
“Teaching Palestine: An interview with Palestinian educator Ziad Abbas,” portrays Israel as a colonialist, apartheid state with no legitimate history or rights in the land. Yet this is another resource promoted by the superintendent to understand the current situation. And still other resources, promoted by the superintendent as “fact-based” and “data driven,” are, in fact, created by Palestinian activists who decontextualize Israeli defensive actions and policies to depict the Jewish state as oppressors of Palestinians.
In his letter to teachers, the superintendent emphasizes that “finding certainty in uncertain times is challenging” and recommends explaining to students “that the situation is evolving and there may not be clarity at the moment.”
But moral ambiguity is not what students -- especially those at Brookline schools whose population include large numbers of Jewish students with family in Israel -- need at such a time. This is precisely the time for moral clarity.
The carnage in Jewish communities in Israel that was wrought by Palestinian terrorists and celebrated by their numerous supporters in the Gaza Strip has been likened to the Nazis’ treatment of Jews during the Holocaust to the cheering of their supporters. Palestinian leaders – both Hamas, who dispatched the terrorists while targeting Israeli civilians with missiles, and the Palestinian Authority, who justified their actions – have made it clear for all to see that their goal and mission is to annihilate the Jewish state and its people.
Anyone who cannot unequivocally and unconditionally condemn the sheer evil that has been perpetrated on the residents of the Jewish state is supporting and enabling it. And anyone who attempts to morally equate the deliberate slaughter of babies in their cribs and abduction of the infirm and elderly in their wheelchairs with the Israeli Defense Forces’ actions to eliminate the terrorist threat is justifying antisemitism at its worst.
There is no room for such moral ambiguity in Brookline public schools or in any other U.S. public school.
Image of the original letter:
Image of the retraction: