NYC principal apologizes for email calling for action against Israel

New York principal apologizes after furious backlash to an email she sent telling staff to ‘take action’ against Israel

  • NYC school principal has apologized for sending round an anti-Israel email
  • The letter called for staff members to take action in support of Palestinian rights 
  • It was met with backlash from parents who said Bueno should remain politically neutral

A New York City school principal has apologized after she faced backlash for sending around an anti-Israel email to staff. 

The letter called for staff members at MS 136 to take action in support of Palestinian rights including signing a petition or joining a protest. 

Amanda Bueno titled the email, ‘Day of Action in Solidarity with The Palestinian Uprising & General Strike’. It included a series of links that directed those who clicked to a ‘Teach Palestine‘ website and another about US Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) who tweeted against the Israeli raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem that kicked off the latest round of Hamas rocket attacks.

The letter read: ‘If you have been watching the news in absolute horror, you are not alone.

‘You can take action today by protesting, attending a vigil, making a public commitment to Palestinian Liberation, signing a petition, or calling your government officials to place sanctions on Isreal (sic),’ she wrote last Wednesday morning.

‘The time is now to take a stand for those impacted by state-sanctioned violence and crimes against the humanity of the most vulnerable in our world.’ 

Amanda Bueno called for staff members to take action in support of Palestinian rights including signing a petition or joining a protest

Amanda Bueno called for staff members to take action in support of Palestinian rights including signing a petition or joining a protest

The letter called for staff members at MS 136 middle school to take action in support of Palestinian rights. The school is pictured above

The letter called for staff members at MS 136 middle school to take action in support of Palestinian rights. The school is pictured above 

Smoke billows above buildings during an Israeli air strike on Gaza City, on May 20, 2021. Deadly cross-border violence between Israel and Palestine broke out on May 10 and resulted in an 11-day conflict, killing more than 250 people, mostly Palestinians, and causeing widespread destruction in the impoverished coastal territory of Gaza

Smoke billows above buildings during an Israeli air strike on Gaza City, on May 20, 2021. Deadly cross-border violence between Israel and Palestine broke out on May 10 and resulted in an 11-day conflict, killing more than 250 people, mostly Palestinians, and causeing widespread destruction in the impoverished coastal territory of Gaza

It was met with backlash from parents who said that Bueno should remain politically neutral, with one saying: ‘In New York, you have so many different groups of people.’

‘I opened the email and I was in shock. I felt very targeted and very attacked by her words. These resources she provided, it’s propaganda,’ one teacher told the New York Post. 

‘There was nothing in the email about Hamas rockets targeting innocent Israeli civilians.’ 

The school is in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, which is predominantly white, Hispanic and Asian, according to the NYU Furman Center. 

Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter called for her to apologize, taking to Twitter to write: ‘The MS 136 principal must apologize for her email.

‘This was a clear exercise of poor judgment & we will take appropriate follow-up action. We must teach complex current events without bringing our political activities or beliefs into the classroom.’ 

‘New York law forbids requesting or encouraging any public servant, city employee, or subordinate public servant/employee to engage in political activities,’ wrote lawyer Inna Vernikov, who also sent a letter to the Department of Education asking for Bueno to be sanctioned. 

Vernikov said she knew of teachers at MS 136 with ‘close family members who live in Israel.’  

'You can take action today by protesting, attending a vigil, making a public commitment to Palestinian Liberation, signing a petition, or calling your government officials to place sanctions on Isreal (sic),' she wrote last Wednesday morning

‘You can take action today by protesting, attending a vigil, making a public commitment to Palestinian Liberation, signing a petition, or calling your government officials to place sanctions on Isreal (sic),’ she wrote last Wednesday morning

‘The matter is being addressed internally and was referred to the special commissioner of investigation for further investigation.’ 

‘Schools are not public forums for purposes of political expression, and staff may not use DOE resources in the furtherance of personal or political activities,’ a spokesman for the Department of Education said.

According to a report in the New York Post, Bueno has since issued a private apology to staff members who received the email.  

‘As the Principal of a diverse school community who is committed to social justice causes and human rights concerns, I want to apologize for using school email to strongly communicate my personal views and not being as inclusive and mindful of other perspectives as I could have been,’ she wrote. 

‘It was not my intention to inflame tensions on this sensitive issue. I apologize for any added hurt, anger, or misunderstanding my email may have caused.’ 

Bueno, pictured above, titled the email, 'Day of Action in Solidarity with The Palestinian Uprising & General Strike' and included a list of links.

Bueno, pictured above, titled the email, ‘Day of Action in Solidarity with The Palestinian Uprising & General Strike’ and included a list of links.

Deadly cross-border violence between Israel and Palestine broke out on May 10 and resulted in an 11-day conflict, killing more than 250 people, mostly Palestinians, and causeing widespread destruction in the impoverished coastal territory of Gaza. 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has today arrived in Israel at the start of a Middle East tour aimed at shoring up the Gaza cease-fire, which came into effect on Friday. 

He will face the same obstacles that have stifled a wider peace process for more than a decade, including a hawkish Israeli leadership, Palestinian divisions and deeply rooted tensions surrounding Jerusalem and its holy sites. 

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