UPDATE October 4, 2023: After several months of investigation into a Hayward high school teacher who used an antisemitic text as a class assignment, the Hayward Unified School District board voted unanimously last week to fire a “certificated employee,” who J. has since learned was Henry Bens; more here.
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Henry Bens Jr. is a high school educator propagating and promoting antisemitic conspiracy theories and tropes in Northern California’s Hayward Unified School District. Bens maintains ties with the extremist group Black Hebrew Israelites (BHI), a fringe, cult-like, religious movement that mimics the extremist rhetoric of the Nation of Islam (NOI) and fuels Jew-hatred and antisemitic violence. Identified as a hate group by StopAntisemitism and multiple others, its core agenda is the false belief that Black Americans are the true descendants of the biblical Israelites, and that modern-day Jews are imposters who stole the religious heritage of Black people.
Bens actively upholds and shares his antisemitic views on social media; for example in October 2020, Bens claimed “The Khazars, Converts to Judaism, are not from any of the 12 Tribes of Israel, because they are not of the seed of Abraham nor Jacob!” The Black Hebrew Israelites maintain that today’s Jews are religious converts who descended from the Khazars, with no historical connection to the land of Israel.
Bens also posts rhetoric denying the Jewish people of their ancestral home and history, defends notorious antisemites, and spreads antisemitic conspiracy theories of Jewish power and control. For example:
- In October 2022, he ranted on Facebook about companies cutting ties with Kanye West over his antisemitic comments. Bens stated, “All these happened because Kanye made truth claims about the so-called Jewish people.”
- In November 2022, he praised Kyrie Irving for promoting the antisemitic film “Hebrews to Negroes.” The film falsely accuses the Jewish people of replacing Black people as the original descendants of Israel. Bens followed with another post questioning the what constitutes the Holocaust and shamefully compared it to slavery.
The following week, Bens questioned, “Do Zionist exercise a monopoly over Mass Media in the U.S.?” an age-old antisemitic trope often fueled by white supremacists.
In February 2023, it was discovered that Henry Bens distributed antisemitic materials to his students, including photocopies of literature falsely attributing “global power” and “world domination” to the Jewish people as a whole.
Shockingly, students stated on numerous occasions Bens would often perform Nazi salutes, even going as far as saying, “if I was alive during Hitler’s time, I would have an interview with him…I would let him share his views.” Bens was also quoted for “wanting to remove the blindfold” of indoctrination as students had been lied to regarding the history of the Holocaust and Jewish “world domination.” It was later discovered that many students had requested to change classrooms due to his extremist views including, but not limited to antisemitism, homophobia, and sexism.
Several students approached the school administration multiple times regarding Mr. Bens and were left unsatisfied by the silence and failure to act. A teacher confirmed and reiterated concerns to administration but they repeatedly stated they could not do anything about Bens’ curriculum because of “academic freedom” and they “can’t do anything to discipline him because the union will protect him.” As a result, students began organizing efforts to combat these antisemitic teachings. Outrageously, school and district officials criticized the students’ initiative, claiming they exceeded authorized actions and canceling all planned events. District officials offered to hold an event on Holocaust Remembrance Day, but there was only a moment of silence scheduled for Holocaust victims, and then the event was othered as a “multicultural day.”
Finally, after tremendous outcry from students, parents, and faculty, the administration at Mt. Eden High School placed Henry Bens on academic leave. However, it was discovered he was and is still actively on paid leave!
Jewish students at Mt. Eden High and the Hayward Unified County District deserve to feel safe on campus, free from antisemitic bigots like Henry Bens. How can YOU help? Email Mt. Eden High’s administration and the Hayward Unified County District to relieve Henry Bens of his position without pay!