MICHIGAN (VINnews) — A so-called “diversity day” at a public school allegedly turned into a hate-fest, when an invited anti-Israel speaker went off-script and shared her one-sided, politicized views about Middle East politics.
The program took place in Bloomfield Hills High School (BHHS). Huwaida Arraf, notorious for anti-Israel activism and inflammatory rhetoric, addressed hundreds of students. According to the Detroit Jewish News, some Jewish students were so distraught, they abruptly left the event in tears.
Arraf allegedly referred to Zionists as occupiers running an apartheid state, accused Israel of genocide, and denied Israel’s existence, referring to it as Palestine. It appears that there was no attempt made by the faculty to stop her allegedly vicious comments.
Bloomfield Hills High School Principal Lawrence Stroughter sent the following correspondence to families concerning the troubling speech by Arraf.
Bloomfield Hills is home to one of the largest Jewish populations in the state of Michigan. pic.twitter.com/htaimV5EHb
— StopAntisemitism (@StopAntisemites) March 15, 2023
In a follow-up email to parents, BHHS Principal Lawrence Stroughter apologized for the comments, but made no mention of Jews or Israel.
The statement read in part: “During the assembly for the 10th graders, one of the speakers deviated from the prompts without prior knowledge by any of the organizers and discussed the conflict in Gaza from their own personal political perspective and experience. This discussion was outside of the parameters of the assembly and was addressed by the high school administration immediately after the speaker left the stage.
“We denounce any speech that targets individuals or groups based on religion. We are sorry for the harm that was caused to our community as a result of the speaker’s message. We acknowledge that our work toward an equitable school community is always ongoing.”
In response, Jewish students, parents and community leaders objected to the statement as weak, vague and inaccurate because it did not mention that Arraf singled out Israel and Jews.
As quoted in the JN, parent Jennifer Arkin Camens asked why an event that was supposed to address bias and promote diversity included a speaker that encouraged it.
“How do you as a public school during an assembly on diversity allow (someone who encourages bias)?” Camens wrote. “To have your speaker say that Hamas is not a terrorist group and it’s the Jews who are killing people in Gaza is outrageous. How does this eliminate hatred? Instead, it directs hatred to the entire Jewish Community.”
Camens also rebuked the faculty who continued to allow Arraf to speak.
“Where is the accountability? A letter from Principal Stroughter saying the speaker went off prompt is not enough to undo the damage to your students and the entire Jewish community …” she continued. “The goal of the assembly was to help students understand how discrimination affects people. Instead of reaching said goal, you have effectively discriminated (against) the Jewish Students in your school. What a shame.”
A Jewish 10th-grader said she was shocked at what Arraf said and left the assembly in tears.
“We were told that we were about to hear from people of different backgrounds who would share their personal experiences of discrimination from their youth. (Arraf) started at the beginning talking about her childhood experiences but she veered off topic very quickly into talking about how Israelis discriminated against Palestinians. She just kept mentioning Israeli soldiers; it was very odd.
“Then she started mentioning things about the Jews, that she worked for an organization that tried to bring Palestinian and Israeli kids together to become friends and play sports, but she had to resign because she could not handle the fact that Israeli kids would go home to their homes but Palestinian kids went home with guns pointed at them by Israeli soldiers who were probably the big brothers and sisters of the Israeli kids the Palestinian kids just befriended.”
Arraf, a Christian Palestinian with an Israeli Arab father and a graduate of the University of Michigan. In 2022, she ran unsuccessfully for Congress in Michigan’s newly formed 10th Congressional District.