School District: Ithaca 3rd graders exposed to anti-Israel rhetoric in the classroom


The third grade class at Beverly J Martin Elementary School was supposed to be learning about human rights, but part of the presentation came from anti-Israeli activists Bassem Tamimi.

A friend of Tamimi posted a picture of the man in the classroom to Facebook after referencing Israeli soldiers killing Palestinians.

The school district says Tamimi told students they could help by "being freedom fighters for Palestine, to bring peace and protect the future of their children."

Cornell University Law Professor William Jacobson says the Ithaca School District needs to look at who from the school brought Tamimi into a classroom for a one-sided presentation without having permission.

"What is more inappropriate than that? That is not studying huan rights. That is political activism in a classroom where the children are only 8 or 9 years old," he said.

CNYCentral was told the Ithaca School superintendent would not answer questions on the investigation into the presentation today. A statement said the district is reviewing policies for guest speakers and visitors in schools.

The statement says school administration was not told of all the speakers or content beforehand.

"Such statements are not developmentally appropriate for third graders, nor aligned with the New York State Standards. The statements were politically skewed, inflammatory and not endorsed by the Ithaca City School District," the district said in a statement.

Bassem Tamimi has not responded to an e-mail request for an interview. On his Facebook page, he link to an article about his elementary school presentation saying:

"When your enemy becomes nervous this means you are in the right direction."

Jacobson says Tamimi also has a history of using children in anti-Israeli activist videos.

"Whether it was anti-Israel or anti-anybody else, we should not be manipulating our school children, particularly elementary school children for political purpose," Jacobson said.

The statement from the school district says it is also reviewing how human rights subject matter is handled in schools.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off