BROOKLYN, NY – As the school year got underway this year, a Jewish teacher at New York City public school was in for surprise: the t-shirt he made and enjoyed wearing, emblazoned with the words “Proud Zionist” and a small Israeli flag, was cited by an interim principal for supposedly being “political” and “offensive” because it implied the “retaking of Palestinian lands.”
Despite the teacher’s being Jewish and explaining why, in fact, that notion of Zionism was wrong and itself offensive, the principal remained adamant that the Zionist t-shirt was “political” in nature and, therefore, went against guidelines.
At no point did this principal address the teacher’s concern about a double standard, seeing as many other teachers there are known to sport various political slogans on their clothing (seen below).
“The intimidation has caused me great distress, worrying my wife and son,” said the teacher who has chosen to remain anonymous due to fear of reprisals. “After twenty years of teaching, I can’t believe I’m being put through such an ordeal, all because I want to express my First Amendment rights that are fully within the bounds of faculty regulations and in line with the standard practice of my colleagues.”
“This may seem like an innocuous case of a disagreement between a teacher and a principal, but the potential ramifications of allowing such an obvious and dangerous double standard to be perpetuated are severe and unacceptable,” said Hikind. “That’s why we’re locking arms with this brave teacher, and supporting his right to self-expression and not being restrained by antisemitic ignorance.”
The teacher has filed a complaint directly with the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO). Dov Hikind sent a letter of inquiry to NYC Department of Education Chancellor Meisha Porter on October 28, 2021—no response has been received.