A veteran elementary school teacher in southern Israel has resigned after parents complained that she was”too leftist,” due to her public support for refugees and a controversial watchdog group, the Haaretz newspaper reported Wednesday.
The outcry began on a parents’ WhatsApp group and quickly spread, reaching the head of the local authority, who spoke to the teacher with 20 years of experience, telling her he had received complaints from parents.
Parents pointed to photos she had posted to Facebook of posters apparently written by her children from previous years with statements including, “Refugees are people like us,” and “Refugees have no rights — they also need to live.”
The parents also complained that she had posted support for Breaking the Silence, an organization that collects testimonies from former Israel Defense Forces soldiers about alleged human rights violations they witness in the Palestinian territories during their military service.
The teacher, fearing a witch hunt, resigned from her position, saying that, “the classroom has become a battlefield” and that she didn’t want the pupils to suffer. She is currently deciding whether to take legal action over the matter, the report said.
The local authority head said that he had not intended for the teacher to resign, but had just wanted to warn her and “to pay attention to the fact that people were starting to talk, not for her to start panicking,” he told the newspaper.
The initial complaint came from two parents who were concerned that the teacher was “too political,” warning other parents that she held left-wing views.
Others quickly joined the WhatsApp group discussion, with other parents accusing the teacher of going to army checkpoints in the West Bank and “spitting on the soldiers.” They also claimed that her own children didn’t serve in the IDF. Haaretz reported that both those accusations were baseless.
Following threats from parents that they would send their children elsewhere, the school and the Education Ministry arranged a meeting between the teacher and the parents, at which the majority of parents expressed support for the teacher, asking her not to leave.
However, a few days later, despite the support, the teacher quit the school, having found a teaching position in a different school.
The Education Ministry released a statement, saying that it regretted the teacher’s decision.
“The teacher is veteran and professional,” the statement read. “Unfortunately, she decided not to start teaching in the community where she was assigned this year, and at her request she returned to teach in the community where she had worked in recent years.”