They weren’t college students in Portland or elite liberal arts students in Massachusetts. They were students at Hillcrest High School in Jamaica, Queens. And they wanted to be part of the action, to feel just as entitled to attack.
“I doubt half of them know how to spell Palestine,” a senior said.
“They just wanted to make drama about it,” a sophomore said of the teacher’s pro-Israel stance.
“Just, like, chaos. They thought of it as fun.”
The target of their outrage was a teacher, whose name was withhold from readers even though students knew her home address and phone number.
“The teacher was seen holding a sign of Israel, like supporting it,” a senior told The Post this week.
“A bunch of kids decided to make a group chat, expose her, talk about it, and then talk about starting a riot.”
Hundreds of kids flooded into hallways and ran amok, chanting, jumping, shouting, and waving Palestinian flags or banners.
As students tried to push into her classroom, the 23-year-veteran teacher was taken to a locked office for protection from the rioting students. Police eventually were able to get her out of the building safely, but the students demanded she be fired and it’s hard to imagine her safe return to the school.
What gives rise to such vehemence among high school students. Much is made of the radicalization of college students, whether by their teachers or peers, but high school? While the rhetoric about tolerance and dignity toward some no doubt filters down, and they had to get the Palestinian flags from somewhere, did most really know the complex geopolitical causes for why they were so outraged?
City Councilman James Gennaro didn’t think so.
Gennaro, whose district includes the school, said the Israel-Gaza war gave kids “a convenient excuse” to act out.
“It went from a teacher just changing a photograph on her social profile to this contagion of hate being released in the halls of Hillcrest High School,” Gennaro said.
“It’s a sad commentary on the rancid hate that exists within the hearts of students — for Jews.”
While it may well have one foot in the acceptability of anti-Semitism, a thread of discrimination, intolerance and hatred that’s not merely permitted, but strongly encouraged with its own litany of excuses for why it’s really good to hate Jews, actually But there’s another foot in the pure enjoyment of marching, protesting and rioting for kicks. This became clear during the BLM protests/riots, where kids admitted that burning, looting and destroying were good times, a fun way to get some exercise, fresh air and maybe a cool pair of Air Jordans in the process. Plus, they got to pretend they were being the good guys for doing so. Win-win-win.
On campus, academics argue that they aren’t responsible for their radicalization of students, a proposition that they choose to desperately believe despite all indications to the contrary. After all, when the only correct answer on the quiz is “white supremacy,” it suggests they are very much part of the problem.
But to be fair, if the kids in high school are already sufficiently radicalized that they feel empowered to try to harm a teacher, that their hatred of a teachers is sufficiently justified to behave in this fashion, maybe the profs aren’t the problem and the students are already lost before reaching that small elite New England liberal arts college.
For her part, the teacher targeted by the students responded with the usual insipid words.
“I have been a teacher for 23 years in the New York City public school system — for the last seven at Hillcrest High School. I have worked hard to be supportive of our entire student body and an advocate for our community, and was shaken to my core by the calls to violence against me that occurred online and outside my classroom last week.”
“No one should ever feel unsafe at school — students and teachers alike,” she added.
The teacher continued: “It’s my hope in the days ahead we can find a way to have meaningful discussions about challenging topics with respect for each other’s diverse perspectives and shared humanity,” the teacher said in her statement. “Unless we can learn to see each other as people we will never be able to create a safe learning community.”
It’s a common script, which the teacher appears to have memorized as well as the students. How well does she really believe that’s going to work out when she’s on the wrong side of the “feel unsafe” line?