May 23, 2018

As a New York City parent, I knew something like this was in the offing. I just never thought it would be this egregious.

The Beacon School, a “highly selective” public high school in Hell’s Kitchen, held a moment of silence last week for the 62 Gazans killed trying to storm Israel’s border, 50 of whom were confirmed as Hamas terrorists while several others allegedly were part of Islamic jihad.

Before jumping to conclusions, we should put this into the proper context.

The Beacon School never had a moment of silence for the dozens of Syrian children gassed to death by President Bashar al-Assad, nor for the scores of Palestinians slaughtered in Syrian refugee camps. Though the school bills itself as progressive, it has never mourned the gay men that the Iranian theocracy has executed by hanging, nor Pakistan’s enforced honor killings or its stoning of women.

In fact, silent tributes at the school are very rare. So, just like the United Nations, the mainstream media and an alarming number of universities across the country, the Beacon School has a “social conscience” only when the perpetrators are Israelis, and even if the victims are mostly terrorists.

As one Jewish father put it: “I did not send my child to a New York City public school to pray for Hamas operatives.”

Principal Ruth Lacey has yet to be available for comment. A Department of Education spokesman told the New York Post: “We support civic engagement and advocacy amongst students, and encourage schools to provide inclusive environments where students are able to respectfully discuss current events.”

But there was no discussion before or after the moment of silence. And from what I heard, many Jewish students at the school did not feel respected at all.

As one Jewish father put it: “I did not send my child to a New York City public school to pray for Hamas operatives.”

Jewish parents at my son’s elementary school — all Upper East Side Democrats — were aghast at Beacon’s illiberal political act. It was the only reassuring aspect about the incident.

Hearing the truth straight from the terrorists’ mouths doesn’t seem to matter to most progressives. Hamas asserts time and again its intent to murder “every Jew,” and it makes little difference.

The Forward published a bizarre piece on the Beacon controversy that literally made no mention of Hamas. Who was killed? “Dozens of Palestinians.” It’s almost as if they are trying to signal Hamas: “Don’t worry; let us do the talking.” How progressive.

Progressives buy into every lie about Israel because they have been taught to replace critical thinking with victimhood ideology, and victimhood ideology teaches that Israel is the absolute worst “white colonialist offender.” The fact that Israelis are not white; that Jews have been occupied, persecuted and slaughtered en masse throughout history; that Israel has made repeated offers for peace that have been rebuffed; and that Israel doesn’t start wars but defends itself against forces indoctrinated to hate Jews — all of this is conveniently ignored.

I hope someday someone examines how Israel came to be seen as the worst “white colonialist” offender. Was it a coincidence, or perhaps the remarkable success of the propagandistic theories espoused by people like Edward Said, a Palestinian American professor at Columbia University, 70 blocks north of Beacon? Said is best known for wiping away centuries of Arab conquest and occupation and blaming it on the West.

None of this, of course, is to suggest that Israel is immune to criticism. The sharpest criticism can be found in Israel’s vibrant media, something sorely missing in its neighborhood. I wonder if students at Beacon have been taught this balanced perspective.

Meanwhile, about a week after Beacon’s “tribute” to Hamas, the third grade at my son Alexander’s school had a special “Journey to America” musical performance. Unlike Beacon’s moment of silence, this was completely apolitical: they told the story of immigrants’ journeys to America, an essential part of the American story.

So, the question remains: Why can’t progressive administrators in high schools and progressive professors in academia understand the difference between blatant politicization and proper education? I don’t know the answer, but for America’s sake, I just hope it’s not that their goal is indoctrination.

Karen Lehrman Bloch is an author and cultural critic.

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