If you go to work at one New York City school, a teacher said, it’s OK to wear a Black Lives Matter t-shirt — but don’t you dare wear a shirt that says “Proud Zionist” with the flag of Israel on it.
According to a report in Sunday’s New York Post, Jeffrey Levy — a teacher at MS 51 in the extremely woke neighborhood of Park Slope, Brooklyn — says he was told by the school’s principal not to wear the shirt in school, even though Black Lives Matter and women’s rights shirts have been donned by other staff members.
In a discrimination complaint Levy filed, he said principal Neal Singh told him that students and staff at the school complained about the “Proud Zionist” shirt and a previous “Back the Blue” pro-police tee he wore.
“Singh told me that my t-shirt with an Israeli flag on it and the words ‘Proud Zionist’ were ‘politically explosive,’” read his complaint, which was filed Sept. 30 with the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity at the New York City’s Department of Education.
“He told me that Zionism involves the retaking of Palestinian land and is ‘offensive,’” the complaint added.
The Department of Education told the Post they supported the principal’s decision to ban the “Proud Zionist” t-shirt.
— New York Post (@nypost) November 15, 2021
“Schools are not public forums for advancing personal political views, and per Department of Education regulations, employees are prohibited from using schools for the purpose of political expression,” said Department of Education spokeswoman Katie O’Hanlon.
“This principal’s request followed complaints from students and staff and is consistent with policies around political neutrality in schools.”
There’s a question as to whether or not the shirts were in violation of city school regulations.
“School buildings are not public forums for purposes of community or political expression,” Chancellor’s Regulation D-130 reads.
“While on duty or in contact with students, school personnel may not wear buttons, pins, articles of clothing or any other items advocating a candidate, candidates, slate of candidates or political organization/committee.”
Levy argued “Proud Zionist” doesn’t violate that, given that it has nothing to do with political expression or advocating for a candidate — noting in his complaint Zionism is a religious movement in support of the creation and maintenance of the state of Israel.
However, he highlighted in his complaint that, to the extent that it was political, there was a clear double standard at work at MS 51.
“Singh has permitted other staff to wear attire with ‘Black Lives Matter,’ ‘Feminism is the radical idea that women are people,’ ‘Feminist’ and [female Supreme Court justices] ‘O’Connor & Ginsburg & Sotomayor & Kagan,’” his complaint read.
“Singh’s definition of politically explosive attire appears limited to Jews only,” the teacher said.
“None of my attire, actions or beliefs endanger the emotional or physical safety of students or staff, which Singh accused me of … I have conducted myself professionally and have always respected the beliefs of all while doing my job neutrally and without bias … His attempt to threaten and intimidate me is anti-Semitic.”
Both Levy and the group Americans Against Antisemitism — headed by former state Assemblyman Dov Hikind — provided the Post with pictures of some of the shirts worn by other teachers; the Post’s article included one which said “Feminist.”
In a video for Americans Against Antisemitism, one which says “Black Lives Matter” can also be seen.
BREAKING: NYC Public School Teacher’s Job Threatened for Wearing Zionist T-shirt to School
Teachers there wear BLM and other political t-shirts, but only the Zionist was threatened!
— Dov Hikind (@HikindDov) November 15, 2021
“How insulting. This is sick. This is pathetic. This is anti-Semitic,” Hikind told the Post regarding Levy’s treatment.
“You can’t say you’re a proud Jew and supportive of the people and the State of Israel?”
Hikind, who is a Democrat, said the city’s Department of Education was “representing the extreme left, the radical wing of the Democratic Party” by having different standards for “Proud Zionist” t-shirts than it did for “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts.
“There should be one standard for all. But this is what’s going on in our city,” Hikind said.
Indeed, this is one of the more unfortunate problems of the de Blasio years in New York City — with anti-Semitic hate crimes up and city hall taking an unusually strong interest in cracking down on Orthodox Jewish communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is only a complaint at the moment, but it’s certainly a complaint that’s entirely believable given the priorities of the city’s leadership.
What gets defined as “politically explosive” only runs one way for the woke, after all — and support for Israel, unfortunately, very much runs that way.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.