In response to several anti-Semitic incidents, Americans for Peace and Tolerance (where I work) launched an extensive investigation into anti-Semitic bullying and harassment of Jewish, pro-Israel students by radical left-wing history teachers at Newton North High School in Massachusetts. The investigation is ongoing, with thousands of internal emails and other documents already obtained and examined under the Massachusetts Public Records Law. Thousands more are on their way. . .
Two years ago, a Jewish student at Newton North — we’ll call her Becky — was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer with a 60-70 percent survival rate, just before she was to start her junior year. Her parents moved her to Israel for a year of treatment by its amazing doctors. Becky wanted to attend a U.S.-accredited international school in Israel, because she wanted to graduate with her friends back in Newton after she got better and returned home.
In response to this plan, and to Becky’s desire to take an AP class, Jonathan Bassett, the chair of the Newton North history department, stated: “This is, of course, somewhat ridiculous.” He then wrote: “I’m not going to entertain requests … to take [a course] pass/fail, or any other modification.” He finished with, “I’m not going to have them play the cancer card on me if it doesn’t go well.”
At Newton South, Newton’s other high school, a more sympathetic attitude appears to prevail. An Israeli student was given the choice to take an entire semester of classes pass/fail simply because a visa issue forced him to miss a few days of school.
Bassett has been intensely hostile to community members concerned about anti-Israel bias in his school, telling teachers to “ignore the noise” and, in the words of a former school committee member, “wax[ing] poetic about this garbage,” referring to the community members’ concerns. Two years ago, Bassett dismissed a Jewish parent’s concerns about anti-Israel and pro-Islam history lessons in class, telling the principal, “She has some mental health issues and is visibly unwell.” . . .
Earlier this year, a Newton North history teacher had someone who apparently turned out to be a visiting former student reported to the Newton Police Department, because the former student came into the history office looking for a couple of teachers and happened to be wearing a sweatshirt with an Israel Defense Forces logo. The teacher felt that the former student represented a threat to the school. (Read more from “Public School Continues to Allow Bullying, Harassment of Jewish Students” HERE)