A high school newspaper in Brooklyn was improperly supervised when it allowed unfounded charges against Israel to be published as an op-ed, said the city’s Department of Education.
The article in The Argus, the student weekly at Midwood High School, likens the fear experienced by Americans after Sept. 11 to the daily experience of Palestinians under Israeli rule.
“Imagine living through Sept. 11 every day of your life,” wrote Abtissam Moflehi, who accused Israeli soldiers of systematically raping Arabs. “Their women are afraid to go to the local marketplace because the possibility of being captured and raped is all too real.”
Moflehi, 15, also stated as fact that “650 innocent Palestinians” were massacred in the Jenin refugee camp, despite a United Nations investigation that found only about 50 people, mostly combatants, died during an Israeli incursion last spring.
Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the Department of Education (formerly the Board of Education), said students are encouraged to express their views in the op-ed pages of school papers, but were subject to “responsible school oversight” to ensure that those views “are not derogatory to any ethnic or religious group.”
“Clearly this was not the case here, and we will ensure that the faculty advisers will be more diligent in this process,” Ortiz said.
The paper lists two English teachers, Catherine Kaczmarek and Paul Milkman as faculty advisers. Milkman declined to comment when reached by phone. Kaczmarek did not return a call.
The article gained notoriety off-campus after Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind obtained a copy of the paper and denounced the piece as a “blood libel” akin to those found in the Arabic press. “It is a misuse of our tax dollars,” said Hikind. He said there had been no press reports of rape accusations against Israeli soldiers.
The New York director of the Anti-Defamation League, Joel Levy, branded the column “irresponsible” and factually inaccurate. He said that while anti-Israel journalism on college campuses was widespread, it was rarely seen on a high school level.