WESTFIELD, NJ MOM CHARGES SCHOOL BOARD OFFICER’S PUBLIC BIAS AGAINST JEWS VIOLATES STATE AND LOCAL LAWS
A Westfield New Jersey mother has filed a Complaint with the New Jersey School Ethics Commission to enforce her Jewish family’s right to unbiased behavior by a local education official. Drafted with assistance from The Deborah Project, a public interest law firm representing victims of antisemitism and anti-Zionism in education, Stephanie Siegel’s pleading explains that, in a public manifesto and on social media, Westfield Board of Education Vice President Sahar Aziz has
· Publicly committed herself to ensuring that all educational activities in which she participates will advance the belief that the State of Israel “enshrines” the concept of “the racial supremacy of Jewish Zionist nationals;”
· Used Nazi ideology to claim that Jews who support the State of Israel believe themselves to be a “master race;”
· Publicly claimed that Jewish people have no historical connection to the land of Israel, and that their presence there is an exercise in “settlor colonialism.”
These statements grossly violate the New Jersey mandate that school district officials avoid issuing statements which have “the potential to discourage members of the Public” from “engag[ing] with the Board given what may seem to be an apparent bias.” The Complaint also alleges that Aziz has refused to include in her public statements the disclaimer required by Westfield School Board members according to the lawyer for that governmental body, that the views expressed are her own and not those of the public school board on which she sits.
For thousands of years the Jewish commitment to the return of the Jewish people to Zion has filled Jewish scripture, Jewish law and Jewish custom. For that reason, the United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights has recently reaffirmed the common-sense principle that attacks on those who support Zionism and the state of Israel, simply because they hold such beliefs, can constitute discrimination against Jews on the basis of their common ancestry.
New Jersey law mandates that, as a public official, Dr. Aziz’s right to express her own opinions must be exercised in a manner that avoids actual bias against any group – especially those with whom she disagrees – and also requires that she avoid creating the danger that she will appear biased against those whose religious commitments she clearly abhors. The Complaint filed by the Deborah Project on behalf of Ms. Siegel asks the New Jersey School Ethics Commission to enforce these principles of basic fairness on behalf of Jewish residents of Westfield just as they have already been enforced to protect other minority groups.