Emergency school meeting gets contentious addressing alleged antisemetic speaker at Bloomfield Hills HS
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. (FOX 2) - A diversity assembly at Bloomfield Hills High School went awry after a speaker was accused of spewing antisemitic rhetoric.
Now parents want to know what the district was thinking and had their say at an emergency school district meeting on Monday.
One man was ushered out by police in a tense, standing-room-only emergency meeting called by the Bloomfield Hills School Board. This, one week after controversial remarks made by Palestinian activist Huwaida Araff during a school assembly.
"Today, unfortunately, the grade for accountability is F, and F stands for failure," said a woman. "You have failed my Jewish children and their Muslim friends. You have failed myself, and my husband, and both of our parents who fled the USSR because of antisemitism."
"It was pointed out that the children were getting along well before this and now they’re not," said another woman. "There needs to be a program that is set up to deal with antisemitism and Islamophobia and that has to be the topic nothing else, no diversity, nothing else."
Community members were also outraged over purported drawings of swastikas in school bathrooms according to several parents and students.
Leaders from both the Jewish and Muslim faiths spoke in the name of healing and unity.
"I’m sure that me and my clergy friend Rabbi Asher, we agree as well as disagree on many issues," said an imam, "However this should not stop us from respecting and appreciating each other’s worth."
"As a Jew, a rabbi, a proud Zionist, also a supporter of Palestinian rights, I asked the school to support all students - Jewish, Muslim Christian, Hindu and others in expressing their beliefs and passions on any issue," said Rabbi Asher Lopatin.
Read more: Palestinian activist denies claims she made antisemitic speech at Bloomfield Hills High School
Huwaida Araff, one of several diversity speakers of various backgrounds for the school's program, told FOX 2 last week her comments were focused on the state of Israel and not the Jewish people themselves. She said she is married to a Jewish man.
"We have a problem with too many people conflating legitimate criticism of a state, the state of Israel which is occupying and oppressing the Palestinian people, which is committing crimes against humanity and these are documented facts," she said. "That is very different from antisemitic comments that targets the Jewish people.
"I said nothing in my presentation to any of the students of Bloomfield Hills High School that in any way could be taken as antisemitic except by those who deliberately want to conflate."
Many parents told the board the assembly never should have happened, and that students should focus on learning the basics in their education.
"It seems like the school is injecting itself and creating the environment a little more divisive than it really is, in terms of everyday activities with the kids," said one man.