The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is appealing a decision by a New Jersey state agency to dismiss an ethics companies against two school board members who slandered Israel.
Representing Elisabeth Schwartz in her case against two members of the Clifton, New Jersey school board, the ZOA alleged that they violated New Jersey’s School Ethics Act by “deliberately and purposefully [using] their official podiums to make false and incendiary antisemitic statements attacking Israel during the ‘commissioner comments’ portion of the school board’s virtual meeting, thereby compromising the public’s trust in the board, in violation of the law.”
The incident occurred in May 2021 during the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
“The board members falsely accused Israel of ‘oppressing the Palestinian people’ and ‘ethnic cleansing,’ and of being an ‘apartheid’ and ‘colonialist’ state,” the ZOA said in a statement. “One of the board members falsely claimed that U.S. police forces were going to Israel to learn ‘abusive tactics’ that they were bringing back to American communities, and he effectively blamed Israel for the death of George Floyd.”
In September 2021, Schwartz filed a complaint against the two board members with the New Jersey School Ethics Commission, accusing them of violated the School Ethics Act.
“From personal experience, Ms. Schwartz understood how hatred of Israel can fuel hatred of Jews. She is the aunt of Ezra Schwartz, the 18-year-old Jewish American student who was murdered in a Palestinian Arab terrorist attack in 2015,” the ZOA said.
But in January 2022, the Commission dismissed the complaint without holding a hearing. The case was appealed to the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, with Schwartz asking the ZOA for help.
“Under the School Ethics Act, school board members are prohibited from taking action beyond the scope of their duties and responsibilities that potentially compromise the Board. Yet that is precisely what the two school board members did. Each of them delivered inflammatory antisemitic speeches attacking Israel that had nothing to do with their Board responsibilities. Compounding their violation of the law, the board members each failed to make it clear before they launched their anti-Israel, antisemitic attacks that they were expressing their personal opinions only and were not speaking on the board’s behalf,” the ZOA said.
The result was that they “potentially compromised the public’s trust and confidence in the board, particularly among Jewish members of the Clifton community,” the Jewish advocacy organization charged.
“At a time of frightening and soaring Jew-hatred, it’s both dangerous and unconscionable that two school board members would recklessly and irresponsibly foment Jew-hatred by using their official podiums at a school board meeting to demonize and brutally attack the Jewish state of Israel with monstrous and egregious lies, falsely blame Israel for problems in the US, including the killing of Blacks, and deny the Jewish State of Israel’s very right to exist,” ZOA National President Morton Klein said. “Jewish students and their families could not possibly have any trust in this board and expect to be treated fairly on matters before the board.”