By: Benyamin Davidsons
A New York City teacher says his “Proud Zionist” T-shirt has been banned by the school he teaches at.
As reported by the NY Post, teacher, Jeffrey Levy, at MS 51, in Brooklyn’s liberal region of Park Slope, complains that the school’s principal ordered him not to wear his “Proud Zionist” t-shirt in the building again. Mr. Levy, an English as a Second Language teacher and 20-year veteran at the school, was shocked, and provided photos of other political shirts teachers and staffers had worn, including ‘Black Lives Matter’ and Women’s rights shirts.
Mr. Levy has filed a discrimination complaint with the city Department of Education’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity. “Singh told me that my T-shirt with an Israeli flag on it and the words ‘Proud Zionist’ were politically explosive’,” Levy said. The complaint adds, “He told me that Zionism involves the retaking of Palestinian land and is ‘offensive,’”. Levy asserts in the complaint that Zionism is a religious movement that propelled the creation of the State of Israel for Jewish people.
Levy told the Post, that Principal Neal Singh said that students and other staffers had complained about the shirt—as well as another pro-police “Back the Blue” t-shirt he had worn previously. Levy says the principal’s request implies a double standard. “Singh has permitted other staff to wear attire with ‘Black Lives Matter,’ ‘Feminism is the radical idea that women are people,..’” said Levy in the discrimination complaint. “Singh’s definition of politically explosive attire appears limited to Jews only.”
“None of my attire, actions or beliefs endanger the emotional or physical safety of students or staff, which Singh accused me of,” says Levy. “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.”
Singh declined to comment. In a statement to The Post, the DOE backed the principal. “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 DOE spokeswoman Katie O’Hanlon. “This principal’s request followed complaints from students and staff and is consistent with policies around political neutrality in schools,” she added.
Former Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who heads a group dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, known as Americans Against Anti-Semitism weighed in on the issue, siding with Levy. “This is anti-Semitic,” Hikind said, charging the city Department of Education with “representing the extreme left.” Hikind sent a letter to schools Chancellor Meisa Ross Porter accusing the district officials of a “double standard” and “anti-Semitic ignorance.”