Pro-Hamas Message Included in High School Yearbook

Muslim students in the Chicago metropolitan area are defending their recent “annual multicultural festival” project which displayed a Palestinian flag and poster bearing the widely criticized “from the river to the sea” slogan, according to multiple local news outlets and a Change.org student-led petition.

The petition — titled “Oppose the false anti-semitic accusations of Bartlett High School Administration!” — was launched last week by the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and displays a photo of several Palestinian students smiling behind their flag and contentious posters. The petition rebukes school leadership for its criticism of the student project.

Bartlett announced it would pause distribution of school yearbooks containing the controversial photo. Click here to read my new book, “Twilight’s Last Gleaming: Can America Be Saved?”

“There is nothing inherently offensive about them,” the Muslim students said regarding their signs which displayed the “river to the sea” chant along with a quote from Malcom X.

“We would like to spread awareness about this petty accusation and discrimination towards students at our school which may disrupt the so called ‘inclusivity factor’ which the school and school district so proudly claim to have,” the MSA added.

According to Chicago’s Daily Herald, Bartlett interim principal Melanie Meidel wrote in an email to parents, “We regret to inform you that an offensive photo was included in this year’s school yearbook … regrettably, we have become aware that the yearbook was printed with a photo containing text that is considered antisemitic.”

However, Bartlett senior student Ryhah Rizvi said that “Palestine, whether it is Gaza or the West Bank, is between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea … to consider that phrase offensive is to deny the Palestinians’ very existence on that land and that is true discrimination.”

The student petition has garnered over 1,600 signatures in defense of the Muslim group, and many signees have left comments such as “Free Palestine” and criticisms of school leadership.

The Chicago Tribune noted that Bartlett hasn’t officially revealed which yearbook photo was flagged as inappropriate but that the MSA identified the image in an Instagram post Friday evening.

According to Avi Gordon, an activist and leader in combating antisemitism on school campuses, pro-Israeli community members view the phrase “from the river to the sea” as an antisemitic charge, the Chicago Tribune described.

“That chant calls for the dismantling of Israel from the Jordan River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the West,” said Gordon. “It not only makes Jewish and Israeli students feel unsafe but also ostracizes them.”

Bartlett administrators and yearbook staff did not respond to requests for comment from local media.

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