The recent wave of pro-Hamas protests among young people in the aftermath of the October 7 terrorist attack in Israel is deeply concerning. These protests have gained traction, especially among young individuals who are least likely to support Israel. What is even more alarming is that these young people are organizing and documenting their exploits on social media platforms. One recent incident at Hillcrest High School in Queens, New York highlighted the extreme actions taken by these protesters. They forced a Jewish teacher to hide in her office while demanding her immediate termination for attending a pro-Israel rally. It’s outrageous!
The incident was shared on TikTok, along with a caption that was barely intelligible and filled with laughing cat emojis. This just goes to show that social media does not necessarily make young people smarter. In fact, it can be incredibly dangerous. And as if that wasn’t enough, New York Mayor Eric Adams’s response to the incident was weak and uninspiring. He called it a “vile show of antisemitism” and claimed it would not be tolerated, but his words fall flat.
The New York Post also criticized Chancellor David Banks for his feeble response to the incident. Teachers and parents gathered outside the Tweed Courthouse to slam Banks for his weak stance on the matter. Instead of taking swift action, Banks defended the students and downplayed the tension at the school. How can we expect our education system to address antisemitism when those in power refuse to acknowledge the problem?
Even With Anti-Semitic Protests, Activism Director Still Thinks Teens Need Social Media at School
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) November 30, 2023
These pro-Hamas protests are happening at a time when lawmakers are trying to keep students focused on their education. Senators Ted Cruz, Ted Budd, and Shelley Moore Capito recently introduced the Eyes on the Board Act, which aims to limit students’ access to social media platforms during school hours. This bill is a step in the right direction to combat the distractions caused by social media. It is supported by various organizations concerned about the negative effects of excessive social media use, including the American College of Pediatricians and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.
Of course, there are always activists who oppose any restrictions on social media. Jason Kelley, the activism director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, penned a misguided article opposing the Eyes on the Board Act. He argues that social media plays a useful role in society and claims that many protests against social injustices have been organized through these platforms. But let’s be honest, students shouldn’t be organizing protests during school hours. It’s disruptive and can even put the safety of teachers at risk. Kelley’s defense of social media and his dismissal of the bill’s potential merits fall short.
Kelley also raises the issue of book censorship, insinuating that restrictions on social media could lead to further limitations on access to information. But this is a false comparison. Parents have every right to voice concerns about explicit content in schools, including sexually explicit books. We shouldn’t defend books that are inappropriate for school-age children under the guise of protecting freedom of information.
It’s also worth noting that Kelley has a problematic history, including problematic replies on his X account. From downplaying the severity of sharing Osama Bin Laden’s “Letter to America” on TikTok to defending those who support Hamas, his views are questionable at best. It’s no wonder he fails to mention incidents like the one at Hillcrest High School in his article. These incidents of antisemitism and pro-Hamas sentiment are far too common, and they need to be addressed head-on. We cannot allow our education system to become a breeding ground for hatred and extremism.
Efforts to combat antisemitism and ensure a safe learning environment for all must be a priority. It’s time for lawmakers, educators, and parents to unite and take a stand against this troubling trend. No student should have to fear for their safety or face discrimination based on their religion or political beliefs. We must foster an environment that promotes tolerance, respect, and critical thinking instead of blindly following dangerous ideologies like those championed by Hamas.