Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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Virginia High School Faces Backlash for Suspending Student Who Exposed Antisemitic Behavior

Last week, Jewish students at Langley High School were stunned to see the image of a U.S. flag that a classmate had drawn in Room 1406 during a meeting of the Muslim Students Association, replacing the stars on the flag with swastikas and the message “Free Palestine!” in between squiggles for stripes. The image circulated quickly at school, as pro-Palestine students staged a “walkout” on Friday, carrying another sign with swastikas on it and chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a call-to-action that Jewish groups have decried as an anti-semitic war cry to destroy the state of Israel.

Now, Jewish students and parents are shocked to learn that Langley administrators this week suspended not only the Muslim student who drew the swastikas on the U.S. flag but also an Asian American classmate whom school officials accused of leaking the photo to the public. Local Jewish community members and their allies plan a rally on Nov. 17, at 11 a.m., at Fairfax County Public Schools’ Gatehouse headquarters, which they have renamed “Hatehouse,” to protest the retaliation against the Asian American teen and the lack of school district action on anti-Jew hate. 

The controversy over swastikas at one of America’s top high schools, just down the road from CIA headquarters, brings the contentious global battle over Israel and Palestine from college campuses and the streets into America’s K-12 school system. For several years, parents have expressed their concerns that administrators at Fairfax County Public Schools are ignoring antisemitism, said Rebecca Schgallis, cofounder of the group United Against Antisemitism. “Fairfax County Public Schools has emboldened students to become even more aggressive in their open antisemitism where they explicitly express support for Hamas and include swastikas in their signage. Jewish students have been threatened at these walkouts, and yet FCPS is falsely claiming to the community that they are peaceful and orderly. When Jewish students and their allies protest against antisemitism, they have their own right to free speech and rights outlined in the Student Rights and Responsibilities violated.”

Last week, teens at Robinson Secondary School, off Sideburn Road in Fairfax, rallied in front of their school with a shocking chant breaking out, “Long live Hamas!” Parents who witnessed the chant asked administrators to intervene, but they didn’t, according to a video of the event.

Late last month, across the county at Woodson High School, a Jewish senior, Yakov Schwartz, 18, led a group of half a dozen students, carrying two small Israeli flags, to the football field, where about 250 students organized by the Muslim Students Association rallied against Israel. At one point, students tried to grab his flag, and a mass of anti-Israel students rushed the field to hover menacingly over the Jewish students.

Schwartz said the decision by the Langley administrators to punish the alleged whistleblower follows a pattern and practice of retaliation school district officials mete out against Jewish students and their allies when they raise issues about anti-semitism. “Fairfax County Public Schools doesn’t truly care about making schools safe for every student,” he said. 

“The student who drew the swastika flag not only threatened Jewish students but he also defaced the flag of his country. It’s a disgrace to our flag, our country, and its people,” said Schwartz, who now carries extra Jewish prayer caps, or kippahs, in his backpack to give to friends to wear as an expression of support for Jewish students, especially younger ones still finding their way at the school.

Back at Langley on Monday, school administrators started grilling the young Asian American student, interrogating him without his parents present, inspecting his phone, and threatening him with alleged violations of the Student’s Rights and Responsibilities handbook, say people familiar with the situation. School officials alleged he had shared the photo of the student holding the swastika flag as a second teen in a Vans beanie stood beside him, flashing a thumbs-up sign. The other teen in the photo also got suspended. 

On Nov. 10, students of the Muslim Students Association led about 150 students outside the school in a “walkout.” One of the students held a sign, “Peace for Palestine,” with two swastikas scrawled on the back, according to a video obtained by the Fairfax County Times.

Source: https://www.fairfaxtimes.com/articles/fairfax_county/fairfax-county-public-schools-suspends-student-who-blew-whistle-on-swastika-flag/article_26c795f4-84a9-11ee-8c2e-d709babe6b5d.html