OMAHA, Nebraska — Officials in a Nebraska school district have canceled scheduled talks at two high schools by a Palestinian Christian speaker due to concerns that Jewish students at one of the schools were being harassed ahead of her visit.
Nora Carmi is a Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activist from Jerusalem who’s holding talks around the US this year, including a stop last week at Creighton University in Omaha.
The BDS movement encourages boycotting Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians. Israel charges that the movement is motivated by anti-Semitism.
Carmi was scheduled this week to visit Millard North High School and Millard South High School in Omaha, where curriculum includes learning about the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
Millard North’s principal received a phone call from a parent worried that Carmi would give only one side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said Rebecca Kleeman, spokeswoman for Millard Public Schools. Kleeman said the district was prepared to proceed with the talks anyway.
But the district recently received concerns from a local chapter of the Anti-Defamation League about at least one Jewish student at Millard North being verbally harassed, according to Kleeman.
She said the district decided to withdraw Carmi’s invitation despite the unclear details of the alleged harassment.
“We could see this was a situation that was spilling out of the classroom and becoming a disruption to our learning environment,” Kleeman said. “Then we did take the action of canceling the speaker. We did not do that when the parent complained.”
She said the schools will discuss the issue and continue to talk about the Middle Eastern conflict. The district is investigating the harassment reports.
“This whole thing is very disappointing to us,” Kleeman said. “We want to (address) controversial issues and teach our students to think critically.”