Israeli soldiers move on the top of a tank near...

Israeli soldiers move on the top of a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, as seen from southern Israel, on Thursday. Credit: AP/Leo Correa

Reaction to lesson can be instructive

As a teacher, I feel compelled to respond to the coverage of Sewanhaka’s school board meeting [“Israel-Hamas war lesson at H.S. nixed,” News, May 10]. None of the parents who spoke at that meeting had a child in the class of the teacher under scrutiny. Without knowing the teacher, and based solely on a single lesson, some of these individuals accused the teacher of advancing “a political agenda” and being racially biased.

As a colleague, I can attest to this teacher’s character and integrity, as well as this individual’s commitment to the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion. While this lesson may have reflected an error in judgment, the teacher was well-intentioned.

Veteran teachers, using more conventional, time-tested approaches to this sensitive issue, are concerned they may inadvertently trigger the sort of reaction that took place last week. When educators hesitate to cover critical issues, fearful that their reputation will be unjustifiably sullied on social media and at public forums, the quality of education suffers.

Teachers are dedicated professionals committed to serving the students in our charge. It is my hope that all parties involved can move forward with greater understanding and appreciation of one another, and a renewed commitment to the district’s diverse community of learners.

— Carolyn Faggioni, Bellmore

The classroom is not a neutral space. It’s OK to “take a side” when it comes to teaching against the attacks in Gaza. This isn’t a “conflict,” it’s a settler-colonial occupation by Israel. And it’s possible to teach the “geography and timeline” of it without resorting to antisemitism. Events like the Six-Day War aren’t biased.

So why are some afraid of teaching plain facts, like how Israel funded Hamas with billions in Qatari dollars for the sake of “stability”?

Fear of antisemitism is legitimate, but that’s because it’s rampant in our society. See any number of pro-Israel politicians who criticize cabals of globalists, which often is code for Jews, when it comes to issues like immigration. Islamophobia is just as embedded in our society, especially since 9/11.

Good teachers are lifelong learners and can inoculate themselves against Islamophobia and antisemitism by reading books about Palestine and antisemitism. We need not teach our students false neutrality.

— Timothy Karcich, Deer Park

The writer is an English teacher at Wyandanch Memorial High School.

President Joe Biden is in a precarious situation, and most former presidents can understand his predicament [“WH: Israel likely misused weapons from U.S.,” News, May 11]. He has been criticized by the left for not adopting a pro-Palestinian stand to resolve the Gazan conflict and urge Israel to prevent additional bloodshed. In Congress, he has been lambasted by Republicans for his reluctance to dispatch bombs that he deems will cause more casualties in the region.

Gaza is in a delicate balance that he is trying to maintain, supporting the Palestinian cause in a peaceful and practical way yet pledging support to Israel as a strategic ally.

In both Israel and Gaza, there are two extreme parties in this conflict. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, together with his right-wing coalition, want to eradicate Hamas, and in turn Hamas wants to annihilate Israel. There is no possibility of a settlement given this scenario.

Both the left and right in this country must realize that unwarranted criticism of our president does not serve any purpose but to divide our country further.

Let us find common ground and purpose allowing for rational thinking so that we can find a just and meaningful resolution to the crisis in Gaza and peace in the region.

— Paul Napoli, Levittown

While I appreciate that Joe Biden expressed his “ironclad support” for Israel, I’m afraid that he has allowed the iron to rust badly [“Biden’s fraught call on arms for Israel,” Opinion, May 10]. Imagine if, six weeks after Pearl Harbor, some world power had told President Franklin D. Roosevelt that the United States would be allowed to defend itself against Japan, but if we attacked them, our weapons would be withheld. If that had happened, Japan would have won the war.

The weekend after the Oct. 7 attack, Biden said on “60 Minutes” that Hamas must be eliminated. Now he must rethink his weapons decision and allow Israel to do what it must. This is the only way to prevent Oct. 7 from repeating itself and will ultimately bring peace not only to Israel, but to the Palestinians as well.

— Allan Mosak, Cedarhurst

The war in Gaza is in its eighth month, and the devastation, deaths and overall destruction continue to mount. Why hasn’t and isn’t the United States, U.N. and the civilized world demanding that Hamas immediately surrender and release the hostages?

— Claude Kasman, Nesconset

I was shocked that, in all the May 12 letters [“Campus protests: Passions soaring,” Opinion] and most of the May 14 letters [“SBU leader did a balancing act”] responding to student protests on college campuses, most readers expressed hardly a shred of sympathy for these young people.

I understand that the war in Gaza is a complex situation and that antisemitism and its close diabolical cousin, white supremacy, lie just below the surface in American society. Protesters who imply that Hamas, a recognized terrorist group, has the moral high ground over Israel are clearly wrong and risk offering fodder for those who practice and promote hate speech.

Yet do we not recognize that at the heart of these protests for most of the young people involved is a simple moral calculus? That the death of innocent Palestinian adults and children due to weapons supplied to Israel by the United States is simply horrendous?

Rather than condemn the protesters en masse, perhaps we might see this as a teachable moment to examine together the causes of apparent endemic violence in the Middle East and how the United States might play a more effective role in working for peace and encouraging dialogue.

— James Philipps, Syosset

If we don’t agree with those who say the two-state solution is the only pragmatic answer in Gaza, then we are part of the problem, not the solution. Neither Israelis nor Palestinians seem to want to talk about two states. There are alternatives.

In 1948 at the beginning of Israel, many spoke out against the idea of a two-state solution. Philosopher Hannah Arendt proposed “local self-government and mixed Jewish-Arab municipal and rural councils . . . It is still not too late.”

Hopefully, it’s still not too late for this young generation to see that there are two peoples who must live together.

— Paul McIsaac, Sagaponack

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