An outspoken pro-Israel member of the city Panel for Educational Policy was bashed for criticizing Hamas, cursed at by a fellow member, and is now the target of an X account claiming he “justified the slaughter of children.”
In the latest show of tension and division in NYC schools over the Israel-Hamas war, Queens parent rep Ephraim “Effi” Zakry, was heckled during the Nov. 29 PEP meeting as he tried to explain why the slogans “From the river to the sea” and “Long live the Intifada” are offensive.
“Any Jew interprets that, whether you mean it or not, as genocide of Jews,” Zakry said.
Some attendees walked out of the Long Island City High School auditorium as he spoke.
Fellow PEP member Thomas Sheppard, a Bronx parent rep and self-described “equity champion,” left his seat on the
This month, after a contentious four-1/2 hour meeting on Dec. 20, Zakry said, he approached Sheppard outside the auditorium to “wish him happy holidays.”
According to Zakry, Sheppard replied, “Get the f–k away from me.”
Zakry then called Sheppard “a hypocrite,” he said, “for talking in that meeting all about restorative justice and yet he’s not willing to practice what he’s preaching.”
Sheppard again shouted, “Get the f–k away from me,” Zakry alleged.
As Zakry walked away, he said, Gavin Healy, a member of Manhattan’s Community Education Council 2, who was standing near Sheppard, also cursed at him.
Healy denied that.
Then a staffer for Public Advocate Jumaane Willams accused Zakry of harming special-needs kids, although Zakry considers himself a vocal advocate for students with disabilities.
“It’s sad that some people have no scruples and stoop so low because they are not happy with how I vote on the PEP,” Zakry told The Post.
During the meeting, Zakry voted in favor of revisions to a Chancellor’s Regulation on school safety and NYPD involvement in schools, which Sheppard and others opposed.
The 23-member board consists of 13 mayoral appointees, five selected by borough presidents, and five elected by Community Education Council presidents for each borough.
Both Zakry and Sheppard were elected by CEC presidents.
The panel is designed to provide checks on mayoral control of schools, though the mayor’s appointees typically act as a rubber-stamp.
The PEP signs off on major contracts, the DOE budget, and school closures or co-locations, among other issues.
Zakry insisted he did not want to publicize the ugly confrontation.
“I’m trying to address this through the proper channels,” he said.
Meanwhile, a new X account — “No Hate on the PEP” — appeared last week, targeting Zakry and demanding his removal.
The anonymous account accuses Zakry of “justifying the slaughter of children,” and that “students, teachers, and parents deserve so much better than this.”
At the November meeting, Zakry had stated that the terrorist group Hamas uses children as human shields and that’s why so many were killed in a hospital in Gaza.
He added, “The students, many of them don’t really know what’s going on, they’re supporting things that they don’t understand, and many adults also don’t really understand what’s going on.”
The X account blasted his remarks:
“Panel member Zakry berated parents as ‘ignorant,’ but he’s the one who’s ignorant of international law and basic human decency.”
Another commenter posted, “Killing children is hideous, and there shouldn’t be a PEP member trying to excuse it by saying children are being used as human shields to justify their MURDERS!”
Sheppard joined in the X attack: “For him to say it while seemingly unconcerned with the harm and distress he was causing, not just to our children and communities, but also while sitting next to one of our Muslim school board colleagues in whom I have immense respect, was particularly appalling,” he said, referring to panel member Tazin Azad from Brooklyn.
In response, Sheppard shared The Post’s inquiry on X.
Zakry told The Post that “frequent agitators” who attend the meetings twisted his words, distorted facts and spread misinformation.
“To falsely suggest that I condone or justify the killing of any child is outrageous,” he said.
This was a disgraceful moment for the NYC school board, as a member hectored parents, demanding that they listen “respectfully” as he justified the slaughter of children. Our students, teachers, and parents deserve so much better than this.
“The X attack is a manipulation of my words and an attempt to intimidate and silence me for not always being aligned with their political agenda. Any discussion should be conducted with honesty and respect for all, without resorting to personal attacks.”
Others came to Zakry’s defense.
“The attacks on Effi Zakry, one of two Jewish PEP members — and the creation of a Twitter account with seemingly the sole purpose of attacking him — are clearly antisemitic and part of a pattern of political attacks by people who don’t like the way he votes,” said Rachel Fremmer, a Jewish parent from Manhattan and a member of the Citywide Council on High Schools.