Anti-Semitism Rears Its Ugly Head in Klein Independent School District?

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Jewish parents at Klein High School want to know what Terri Hall, the academic adviser to the student newspaper, was thinking when she allowed what some of them consider an anti-Semitic news article and editorial to be published in the January 30 edition of the Klein Bearchat.

The banner story in the 20-page tabloid-sized paper was "Students protest for Palestine freedom" by Halleh Ghaemi, the paper's sports editor. The story covers the January 1 rally outside the consulate of Israel in downtown Houston by supporters of the Palestinians and a follow-up local rally on January 9 at Westheimer and Post Oak -- all protesting the recent warfare between Israel and Palestinians.  

The article continues with a mini-history lesson that somehow manages to leave out the Six Day War, also known as the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

"The news article is factually incorrect," one parent told Hair Balls. "It leaves out entire pieces of history. In the Six Day War, Israel was invaded. None of that's here."

The article also states as fact that:

"Another activity people have used to get their message across is boycotting. Famous companies and businesses such as Coca-Cola, AOL, Disney, Estee Lauder, Johnson and Johnson, Revlon, Home Depot, Starbucks, McDonald's, L'Oreal, Nokia and Nestle are proven supporters of Israel as they donate a certain percentage of their profit to benefit the Israeli economy or display Zionist points of view."

The writer then quotes a fellow student who says he is boycotting Starbucks because the chairman of Starbucks and his company actively support Israel. This father, who said he didn't want his name used for fear that his children might be retaliated against in school, says that while the chairman of Starbucks is, in fact, a Jew who supports Israel, that it is an urban myth debunked several times over that Starbucks, a public company, sends a portion of its profits to Israel.

The father also scoffed at a quote in the news story that "Muslims and Jews have lived together peacefully for thousands of years."

An accompanying column by Sepi Tabrizi, the editor-in-chief, entitled "Conflict between Israel, Palestine escalates" takes apart the notion that Jews were ever promised the Holy Land -- other than descendants of Jews who were living there at the time of Abraham and his sons, Isaac and Ishmael. Those descendants today are Muslims, Christians and Jews, again who have been living there -- "not an Eastern European or Russian Jew who converted to Judaism," Tabrizi writes. The column goes on to argue against any U.S. tax dollars going to support the state of Israel.

Curiously enough, the previous page of the paper was taken up with a point-counterpoint presentation of two diverging views on the importance of the SAT and Tabrizi was one of the writers there. So the SAT merits dueling columns but there's only one side of the Palestinian-Israeli debate?

The father said he and other parents contacted school principal Larry Whitehead and that apparently the process that calls for the faculty adviser to forward controversial writing to an assistant principal was not followed. Of course, who knows what would have happened even if it were?

Superintendent Dr. Jim Cain got his share of calls too. Cain reportedly apologized saying there was never any intent to offend. Parents were offered the chance to speak in the citizen-speaks section of the next board meeting.

So next Tuesday, February 10, each person who wants to will be given five minutes at the 7 p.m. public portion of the KISD school board meeting (which starts at 6 p.m.) at 7200 Spring-Cypress Road.

It shouldn't take a real long time, if nobody's bothered about this except a few Jews. The dad estimates there are only 10-15 Jewish students in the 3,000-student body at Klein High.

-- Margaret Downing

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