California school district fires teacher who taught antisemitic conspiracies

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Hayward High School teacher Henry Bens. (Facebook)

San Francisco Bay Area high school teacher fired after allegedly using antisemitic propaganda in class, defending Kanye West’s anti-Jewish rants.

By Dion J. Pierre, The Algemeiner

The Hayward Unified School District in California has fired high school teacher Henry Bens following an investigation into allegations that he shared antisemitic material in his classes.

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The Algemeiner previously reported that Bens was placed on a leave of absence in February after reports emerged that during a unit on Holocaust survivor Eli Wiesel’s memoir, titled Night, he assigned as class reading “The Hidden Tyranny,” an antisemitic pamphlet authored by Holocaust denier Benjamin Freedman.

Among other claims, the work accuses the Jewish community of conspiring to subvert U.S. power, control the media, and dominate world politics.

Multiple students also alleged that Bens pantomimed the Nazi salute during lessons.

“The district will ensure that Mr. Bens will not be returning to Mt. Eden High School,” the school district’s assistant superintendent for human resources wrote in an internal letter first reported by J. The Jewish News of Northern California.

District Superintendent Jason Reimann had announced the board’s decision to fire Bens during a public meeting last week but did no mention him by name.

When reached for comment for this story, a spokesperson for the Hayward Unified School District told The Algemeiner: “The school district has no comment at this time.”

Students had told J. The Jewish News of Northern California in February that Bens repeatedly said everything they knew was a lie and that he would “remove the blindfold.”

His behavior was first reported in December, but other students said it had persisted for several years. Despite numerous complaints to the administration and direct pleas at school board meetings, he remained in the classroom.

An Algemeiner analysis of Bens’ Facebook account from earlier this year revealed that he is an admirer of the Black Israelites and the film Hebrews to Negroes, an antisemitic documentary that became widely known after NBA player Kyrie Irving tweeted about it last October.

The following month, Bens posted about the controversy prompted by Irving’s tweet, saying, “Oh, is this the link Kyrie posted? Good looking bruh!”

Later, he described as “slave master mentality” efforts to persuade Irving to apologize for promoting Hebrews to Negroes, which, in addition to denying the Holocaust, accuses the Jewish community of stealing their religion from blacks.

In another post, Bens shared a YouTube video defending Kanye West’s antisemitic rants and claiming that the rapper’s actions were similar to a 2002 incident in which the late pop singer Michael Jackson, whose two oldest children were conceived with a Jewish woman, had a public contract dispute with former Sony Music Entertainment CEO Tommy Mottola — who is Italian.

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The formal end of Bens’ tenure in Hayward comes amid the return to the classroom of an unnamed female Wisconsin teacher who, according to a local blog called Elmbrook Community Need To Know, was accused of pantomiming the Nazi salute and ordering students taking her class at Wisconsin Hills Middle School to respond with either “Heil Hilter” or “Heil” followed by her last name.

According to local media reports, the school’s principal sent a letter to parents saying that on Sept. 21, the teacher made an “antisemitic gesture and remark during class that is highly offensive to both Jewish and non-Jewish individuals.” The letter went on to say that a subsequent investigation found the teacher did not intend to cause harm but still violated school policies.

The teacher, who has not been publicly identified, received a temporary suspension. According to a local NBC affiliate, the school principal said in a separate letter to parents that “disciplinary action and corrective measures have been implemented including antisemitism education.”

Source: World Israel News

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