Several Jewish parents expressed outrage over the weekend after children at a New York City school were instructed to observe a moment of silence for the dozens of Palestinians killed during clashes along the Gaza border.
The announcement of the Tuesday tribute at Beacon High School in Hell’s Kitchen was made by a student over the school’s PA system. It was not clear whether the decision had been approved by the school principal.
The New York Post, which reported the story, said it was not able to reach principal Ruth Lacey for comment.
Parents said they didn’t understand why the school chose to suddenly take a stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I am extremely upset because I did not send my child to a New York City public school to pray for Hamas operatives,” a Jewish father told the Post.
The deaths of 62 Palestinians during Monday’s violent protests were met with international outrage and calls for an independent investigation of events. The UN’s Human Rights Council on Friday ordered a probe, and a resolution prepared by Kuwait for the UN Security Council urges the deployment of an international force to protect Gazans. Hamas has subsequently admitted that 50 of the dead were members of the terror group. Three others were Islamic Jihad members.
“I just don’t think any school should be promoting a moment of silence for terrorists. What if it was Islamic terrorists in ISIS?” a Jewish mother said. “No school would be having that over the loudspeaker.”
Jewish student Sophie Steinberg told the paper, “I could see a lot of my Jewish friends get very weird when the moment of silence started…They don’t know how to feel. They don’t know how to fit into all of this.”
Parents who tried to contact Lacey said she had not been responsive to their overtures.
The Zionist Organization of America said it would demand an apology from the school. ZOA President Morton Klein told the Post, “It is disgraceful to mourn the death of Hamas terrorists.”
On Wednesday a few dozen young Jews in London recited Kaddish, the Jewish mourning prayer, for fatalities in Gaza. The activists gathered outside Parliament Square and read the names of the 62 Gazan Palestinians listed by the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza as killed in clashes.
“When Palestinians stand resolute on the Gazan border [for] their freedom and their right to return, they are not committing acts of terrorism, they are performing a mitzvah,” one of the speakers at the Kaddish for Gaza event said.
Since March 30, tens of thousands of Palestinians have taken part in weekly “March of Return” protests, which Israel says are orchestrated by the Hamas terror group and used as cover for attempted terror attacks and breaches of the border fence.
The violent demonstrations were meant to end on May 15, but Hamas leaders have said they want them to continue.