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Elite NY school rocked by claims of anti-Semitism, swastikas on campus & Holocaust survivors labeled oppressors

Elite NY school rocked by claims of anti-Semitism, swastikas on campus & Holocaust survivors labeled oppressors
An elite private school in the Bronx that costs $53,000 a year is being accused of failing to properly address complaints of discrimination and anti-Semitism made by Jewish students who reportedly say they've felt unsafe there.

Swastikas have reportedly been posted on the grounds of Fieldston School and a recent speaker argued that Holocaust survivors have turned into oppressors. 

“If someone was coming to Fieldston to talk about apartheid and went off on a rant about the pea-sized brains of women who belong in a kitchen, or repeated racist tropes, or ranted about any form of homophobia or racism or sexism, immediately teachers would have stood up and said that’s not how we feel, that’s not an idea we share,” one parent told Tablet magazine. 

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The speaker in question, Kayum Ahmed of Columbia University Law School, visited the school late last month, and his lecture appears to have been the tipping point for students and parents.

Speaking on the subject of “victims becoming perpetrators,” Ahmed drew a direct correlation between the atrocities committed against Jewish people by Nazis and the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Jews who suffered in the Holocaust and established the State of Israel today — they perpetuate violence against Palestinians that [is] unthinkable,” he said. 

One teacher, J.B. Brager, who teaches a Holocaust elective, reportedly posted Twitter messages after the speaking event and gave support to the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement.

“I refuse to ‘reaffirm the value’ of ethno-nationalist settler colonialism,” Brager wrote. “I support BDS and Palestinian sovereignty and I have for my entire adult life.”

After a series of complaints, the school reportedly sent out a letter saying it does not accept anti-Semitism or other forms of discrimination, but parents felt this didn’t go far enough.

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The school, of which filmmaker Sofia Coppola and network executive Jeffrey Katzenberg are both alumni, was also accused of not responding properly to complaints about swastikas being posted around classrooms and in hallways. Students claim the school’s response was a presentation to students on the history of the swastika symbol before Nazism. After further complaints, the school later sent out a letter calling the swastika a “hateful symbol.” 

In yet another instance of alleged anti-Semitism, the school created “affinity groups” for students from different backgrounds to discuss their identities and heritages, but there was no group created for Jewish students. 

Complaints have moved outside of the school and into the public arena. The Anti-Defamation League has even been made aware of the allegedly unsafe environment for Jewish students at Fieldston. 

“We have heard complaints from parents over the years about Fieldston in terms of incidents of bias against Jewish students,” an Anti-Defamation League spokesman said in a statement this week. “At the school’s request, we conducted one anti-bias training for school safety officers back in 2017, but unfortunately we had not been able to get back into the school since that time.”

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