Sa'ed Atshan

Two teachers at a Quaker school were suspended after circumventing school guidelines and inviting an anti-Israel activist who promotes BDS to address the students.  

Two teachers at a Quaker school outside Philadelphia were suspended over an invitation extended to a Palestinian anti-Israel activist to address a school club that they supervised.

Teachers Ariel Eure and Layla Helwa were put indefinitely on administrative leave Monday from Friends’ Central School in Wynnewood, a lawyer representing the two women told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The lawyer, Mark Schwartz, said the teachers were told they were suspended for disobeying a supervisor and for having a “single-minded approach to a complicated issue for the community.”

The teachers, who supervised the school’s Peace and Equality in Palestine club, invited Swarthmore College Professor Sa’ed Atshan, a Quaker, to speak last week at the club.

Some parents complained about Atshan’s involvement in a movement that advocates punitive measures against Israel, and school leaders canceled his speech.

Disregard of Guiding Testimonies

The administration says the teachers are on paid leave while an extensive review is conducted.

“As a Quaker school, we have long-standing expectations for all members of our community – especially for our teachers, who have the responsibility of guiding young minds. There are very real concerns about the conduct of Ariel Eure and Layla Helwa for their disregard of our guiding testimonies, which include community, peace, and integrity,” the school said in a statement.

In protest of the cancelation, about 65 students joined Eure and Helwa in walking out of a school meeting. The two teachers attended another meeting where students discussed their concerns. Afterwards, some of them marched with signs reading, “My voice will not be silenced” and “Bring back my speaker.”

Atshan is a leading activist in the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement, which spreads lies about Jews and Israel and seeks to destroy the only Jewish state.

He has voiced support for numerous pro-BDS organizations, such as PACBI1 (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel), alQaws, 2 and PQBDS3 (Palestinian Queers for Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions).

Atshan has also engaged in spreading false propaganda about Israel. He has claimed that Israel is an apartheid state and addressed anti-Israel campus events under the banner of “Israel Apartheid Week.”

In December 2012, he wrote that “In Israel/Palestine, the displacement of Native Palestinian Christians and Muslims continues in an Israeli campaign to maintain a “Jewish state” privileging one ethno-religious group and institutionalizing segregation and discrimination with impunity.”

In reality, Israel has always given all its citizens equal rights under the law. All ethnicities, genders and religions, enjoy full rights and opportunities.

By: AP and United with Israel Staff