A photo of the anti-Israel display at Carrboro High School. (Screenshot) (Screenshot)
anti-Israel display


A group calling itself the Carrboro High School (CHS) Organizing Alliance posted a series of anti-Israel slides on Instagram using the school logo on each slide.

By Peter Reitzes, Algemeiner

Carrboro High School in North Carolina recently allowed their library to feature an anti-Israel display, which included large messages proclaiming, “RESISTANCE IS JUSTIFIED WHEN PEOPLE ARE OCCUPIED” and “FREE PALESTINE.”

To many Jews, seeing the phrase “resistance is justified” is deeply troubling because it condones and justifies Hamas’ use of rape and sexual violence, torture, murder, and hostage-taking.

Included in this public school display was a call for students to “Learn about the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement” (BDS) against Israel, and a list of companies to boycott that included Starbucks, Airbnb, Coca-Cola, Hewlett Packard, and Burger King, the latter referred to as “APARTHEID KING.” Part of the display was presented in both English and Spanish.

A student group that prepared the display indicated on social media that it was active on Dec. 15. Multiple sources told me that the display was taken down after students, families, and community members protested.

I have met with more than a dozen local parents and current Carrboro high school students, who told me that two student clubs, the Student Socialist Alliance and the Zine club, were responsible. The prominent placement of the anti-Israel display in the school’s library likely left some students, staff, and community members believing that these views may have been endorsed by the school and district.

I have worked full-time in the public schools as a speech-language pathologist for the past 24 years. I have never seen, and cannot imagine, a display that vilifies an entire group of people being allowed anywhere on school grounds. For example, would such a display attacking Egypt, Honduras, Ethiopia, or South Korea be allowed? I highly doubt it. But for some reason, when it comes to Israel and the Jews, someone in authority permitted the display.

A student-created anti-Israel zine, or homemade magazine, was placed in the school’s library, and appeared to be part of the anti-Israel display. The creators of the zine are the Student Socialist Alliance and the Zine club.

The zine states, “The US military and police are terrorist organizations, so is the state of Israel and the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces].” It also says, “Israel is NOT a Jewish state.” The zine refers to Israel as “racist,” “colonial,” and an “apartheid” state, and accuses Israel of “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing.” A student told me that they saw possibly hundreds of these zines being distributed at Carrboro High School in ways that interrupted ongoing school activities. Another student told me the zine is being passed around school and that there may be as many as four versions. I have seen two different versions of the zine.

Carrboro High School allowed the display despite the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools hate speech protocol, which clearly states, “Hate speech is more than just harsh words. It can be any form of expression intended to vilify, humiliate, or incite hatred against a group or class of people.”

Without question, the anti-Israel display at Carrboro High School was a form of hate speech. It vilified Israel and its Jewish majority population. Parents and students that I met with are thankful the display was removed, but remain frustrated that Carrboro High School would ever permit such hate speech in their library in the first place.

A group calling itself the Carrboro High School (CHS) Organizing Alliance posted a series of anti-Israel slides on Instagram using the school logo on each slide. In these slides, Hamas is called a “liberation group;” the slides also say that “Zionism… can only lead to genocide.” In a slide comparing Israelis to Nazis, students wrote, “We should support all anti-imperialist movements, especially those that seek to destroy one of the most brutal concentration camps of all time: the Gaza strip.” According to the US Department of State, “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is one example of antisemitism.

Sources tell me that school officials instructed the students to remove the logos. It appears that the entire Instagram account was deleted.

On February 8, students at Chapel Hill High School and Carrboro High School held a “For A Free Palestine: WALK-OUT AGAINST GENOCIDE” that took place during the school day. Many Jewish parents kept their children home that day out of fear for their mental well-being and safety. The Zine club posted a dismissive meme on Instagram, saying, “I’M NOT SORRY OUR PROTESTS BOTHER YOU, YOUR APATHY BOTHERS ME.”

Chapel Hill High principal Steven Sullivan sent parents an email the day before the protest, writing, “We are aware of some social media posts circulating among students (and adults) that encourage a ‘Walk-Out Against Genocide’ … we identified and met with students who are organizing the event in order to discuss concerns and reach an agreement on expectations.” Sullivan continued, “We have made abundantly clear that any vitriolic rhetoric during a peaceful protest will not be permitted.”

There is consensus among most, but not all, parents I spoke with that Chapel Hill High has handled this situation much better than Carrboro High. Multiple sources tell me that a Jewish Student Union at Chapel Hill High may have made part of the difference, as well as specific teachers who actively sought to support and check-in with Jewish students.

Multiple sources — which include parents, students, and community members — believe that some anti-Israel Carrboro High School faculty members are purposefully influencing and abetting this disruption. Some parents are considering filing lawsuits to ensure that Jewish students are treated equally and respectfully, and given a safe learning environment. Some parents are pursuing a Title VI complaint.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools need to uphold and enforce their hate speech policy for all students — including Jewish students.

Peter Reitzes writes about issues related to antisemitism and Israel.