Furor After New York School Holds Minute's Silence for Gaza Victims

ZOA President Morton Klein blasts Beacon High School for move, calling it 'disgraceful to mourn the death of Hamas terrorists'

A Palestinian woman walking through black smoke from burning tires during a protest on the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, May 14, 2018.
Khalil Hamra/AP

A New York school's decision to hold a minute's silence for the 62 Palestinian protesters who were killed by Israeli soldiers on the Gaza Strip border last Monday has been slammed online after the story went viral.

The New York Post reported Saturday that students at Beacon High School in Manhattan were asked on Tuesday "to pause from their studies to pay tribute to the victims of violence in Gaza."

The move triggered complaints from Jewish parents at the school. They voiced outrage that the children were seemingly being asked to mourn some victims who had been identified as members of Hamas.

"I am extremely upset because I did not send my child to a New York City public school to pray for Hamas operatives,” said one father.

“I just don’t think any school should be promoting a moment of silence for terrorists," said another student's mother. "What if it was Islamic terrorists in ISIS? No school would be having that over the loudspeaker.”

Quoted in the New York Post, the Zionist Organization of America said it would be writing a letter of protest to the school, which is situated in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood.

"It is disgraceful to mourn the death of Hamas terrorists," said ZOA President Morton Klein.

And a Jewish student at the school, Sophie Steinberg – a junior from Brooklyn – told the Post: “As a Jewish student, I could see a lot of my Jewish friends get very weird when the moment of silence started. They don’t know how to feel. They don’t know how to fit into all of this.”

Steinberg added that the minute's silence was not out of character for her school. “I think that’s Beacon’s nature – to not be divisive, but to bring up the things that no one wants to talk about,” she said.

The story was then picked up by Fox News, which reported, "New York City school holds moment of silence for Hamas."

Some people responding to the Fox story on Twitter highlighted the difference between Hamas and the Palestinians. One woman wrote, "This is such a perfect example of fake news. They had a moment of silence for the 60+ Palestinians recently killed by Israeli defense forces. Palestinians are not interchangeable with Hamas, even though that’s the only way your narrative works."

Another person tweeted, "This tweet is symbolic of how @RupertMurdoch incites hate and calls for more mass shootings."

But most people tweeting in response to the Fox News story expressed disgust at the move. "I don’t get it, you have a moment of silence for terrorist[s]? So wrong on so many levels!" tweeted one, while another added, "Armed assailants attacking Israel with fire bombs and Molotov cocktails. I wouldn't hold a second of silence!"

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman wrote an Op-Ed for Fox News on Sunday in which he discussed last Monday's events, including the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem

Referring to last Monday's border deaths, Friedman wrote: "Some 60 Gazans, the overwhelming majority of whom were known Hamas terrorists, lost their lives because Hamas turned them into a collective suicide bomb. They were neither heroes nor the peaceful protesters they were advertised to be.

"At least not before the liberal media entered the scene. Desperate for a narrative to discredit the president’s decision to move our embassy to Jerusalem, they broadcast the opening ceremony on a split screen simultaneously displaying the Gaza riots, and condemned the insensitivity of the ceremony’s participants to the carnage that seemed next door on TV but which in actuality was occurring 60 miles [96 kilometers] away!

"The next day, the liberal media vilified everyone associated with the embassy move and glorified the poor Hamas terrorists. Failed diplomats who never brought peace or stability to the region were pulled out of mothballs to regurgitate their calcified thinking. And the most deranged even accused the administration of having blood on its hands. Tellingly, not a single pundit offered a less-lethal alternative to protecting Israel from being overrun by killers or its soldiers from being within range of pistols, IEDs or Molotov cocktails.

"Let there be no mistake. Every life is equally precious, whether Jewish, Palestinian or other. But no nation should ever be called upon to sacrifice its own citizens to preserve the lives of aggressive infiltrators intent on murder and mayhem," Friedman concluded.