A virtual seminar organized by a faction of New York City educators to share resources on how to teach students about the “Israeli occupation” and “ongoing genocide in Gaza” is being blasted by lawmakers and advocates as antisemitic and “divisive.”
Bronx Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) eviscerated the city Department of Education after learning of Saturday’s online seminar — which was promoted by at least one public school principal – saying it “aims to push anti-Zionism propaganda and wrongfully inject divisive politics” into Big Apple classrooms.
“You must intervene and stop this event before it is too late,” Torres wrote to Schools Chancellor David Banks in a Friday letter obtained by The Post.
The DOE is “failing its duties to the next generation” by allowing the event to go through and be promoted by Virtual Innovators Academy Principal Terri Grey, who sent out an email which boosted the virtual forum, Torres wrote.
“It is entirely inappropriate and an abdication of responsibilities for the principal of one of our city’s public schools to be encouraging other public school teachers to push their divisive and hateful ideologies on Israel to our borough’s students,” the Bronx congressman said.
Torres’ team said it spoke to the DOE last week to discuss the seminar and asked for it to be canceled, but did not hear back.
DOE spokesman Nathaniel Styer told The Post that the “zoom conference is not affiliated with, endorsed, or hosted by the NYCPS (New York City Public Schools).”
“As such we have no authority over whether or how it is conducted,” Styer said.
Tova Plaut, a teacher and founder of the advocacy group NYCPS Alliance, said hundreds of members sent emails to Banks alerting him about Grey’s email, which she called an “inappropriate use of DOE assets.”
“A NYCPS principal… perpetuating the lies that “the Israeli occupation and the ongoing genocide in Gaza” is truly a textbook example of how people in power can exploit their position to cause grave harm,” she told The Post.
“NYC’s children are being taught lies as facts and these lessons embed hate against Jews.”
Grey, whose school has on-site locations in The Bronx and Brooklyn, recently fired off an email sharing news of the seminar and details on how to RSVP, according to a copy of the message shared with The Post.
The email noted that teachers would be hearing from a panel of legal experts on “how to combat censorship as we strive to create classrooms that foster justice, understanding and healing.”
Styer said that Grey followed up with the original recipients of the email and clarified that “she does not endorse this event, nor was it her intent to promote it.” The DOE claimed the email was not sent to Grey’s staff.
The director of programming and strategy at activist group End Jew Hatred, Michelle Ahdoot, said calls to cancel the event fell on deaf ears, and attempts to join the seminar to include a Jewish voice were also not met with a response.
“The Jewish community feels unheard, unsupported, and marginalized by the failure of the school system to even engage on the crucial issue of antisemitism,” she told The Post.
It’s unclear how many city schoolteachers have RSVPed to the event, which is set to go ahead as planned, and which is organized by the groups Teaching While Muslim and NYC Educators for Palestine.
It is advertised as a place to share resources on how to “get around censorship” and teach students about the “Israeli occupation” and “ongoing genocide in Gaza.
“Teachers will have the opportunity to present and share original lessons and materials they have developed on topics such as Palestinian history, the history of Israeli occupation, and the ongoing genocide in Gaza,” a description of the two-hour seminar said.
“Every teacher who attends the curriculum share will leave with a collection of lessons they can use with their students.”
Banks just earlier this month unveiled a plan to deal with growing tensions related to the Israel-Hamas war — warning that employees “should ensure that expressions of their personal political views are kept separate” from their jobs in city public schools.
“It is deeply traumatizing to see that the chancellor’s statements are not being matched by action,” Ahdoot said on Friday.