NYC councilwoman blasts failure of ‘modern progressivism’ after anti-Israel high school riot

NYC councilwoman blasts failure of ‘modern progressivism’ after anti-Israel high school riot
By: Fox News (U.S.) Posted On: November 27, 2023 View: 57

A New York City councilwoman unloaded on the failure of "modern progressivism" after students at a Queens high school last week reportedly rioted against a Jewish teacher for attending a pro-Israel rally.

"I was sickened by what I saw at Hillcrest HS, but sadly I was not surprised," Republican New York City Councilwoman Vickie Paladino told Fox News Digital on Sunday. "Our education system is fundamentally broken, and antisemitic riots like this are sadly the natural result of years of woke leftist indoctrination replacing real education.

"Allowing progressives to gain total control over our institutions was always going to lead to tragic outcomes; they’ve been working to instigate a cultural revolution here for decades, and now those efforts appear to be bearing fruit."

Chaos broke out at Hillcrest High School in Queens on Monday after 11 a.m. when students planned a protest against a female teacher for attending a pro-Israel rally last month, the New York Post reported. Students reportedly checked out the teacher’s Facebook account and found her profile photo showed her attending the rally while holding a sign reading, "I stand with Israel."

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New York City Councilwoman Vickie Paladino (New York City Council )

Hundreds of students reportedly ran through the school’s hallways with Palestinian flags and chanted in support of Palestinians, the outlet reported. Witnesses said students started a group chat to expose the teacher and planned "a riot" ahead of Monday’s chaos, the New York Post reported. 

"Everyone was yelling ‘Free Palestine!’" a senior told the news outlet. 

"Everyone was screaming ‘[The teacher] needs to go!’" another student explained.

Students reportedly even attempted to get into the pro-Israel teacher’s classroom, but were blocked by other faculty members. The NYPD responded to the school, which is located in Queen’s Jamaica neighborhood, at about 11:20 a.m.

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War broke out in Israel on Oct. 7, when Hamas launched a series of attacks on the nation. Dueling protests in support of Israel or Palestinians have since unfolded in cities across the world, including repeated protests and rallies in New York City.

"For students in a New York City public school to feel empowered to riot and hunt down a Jewish teacher, something has gone severely wrong, and it's gone wrong for a very long time. And if it's allowed to continue, 'who we are' is going to be a raving mob of children who've been brainwashed into a poisonous hateful political ideology, forever," Paladino said on Twitter earlier Sunday. 

"It was terrorism, plain and simple. Terrorism is violence against civilians to achieve a political goal. And that's what we saw in one of our public schools, against a teacher whose only offense was being Jewish and peacefully expressing her support for Israel on her own time," she added. 

Paladino slammed the students’ actions and detailed a suggested plan of action on how to ensure those who took part in the riot are held accountable. 

Pro-Palestine protesters march throughout midtown Manhattan

Pro-Palestiian protesters march throughout midtown Manhattan. (Stephen Yang for Fox News Digital)

"These terrorist students stalked her online, organized in chat rooms, then sparked a riot and hunted her down. She had to be barricaded in a locker room as the rioters raged in the hallway and attempted to gain access to her," Paladino said in her message on X.

She asked if the teacher would have "survived unscathed" if students had gotten to her, arguing, "I think we all know the answer to that question, and it's horrifying."

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Paladino represents northeast Queens, including neighborhoods such as North Flushing and Bayside.

The Republican New Yorker argued on X that she’s seen "a lot of platitudes from elected officials" and condemnation, but that "MUCH more" needs to be done to prevent a similar incident. She provided bullet points on what actions local and school leaders should take to address the violence.

"Some of us have been warning of exactly this for years. Now that it’s reached the point where it cannot be ignored, the only question is what are we going to do about it? Condemnations and hand-wringing isn’t enough. We need major structural changes to purge this woke poison from our DOE at every level, including the teachers unions who have enabled it every step of the way. Otherwise, things are only going to get worse," she told Fox News Digital. 

Paladino is calling for the immediate suspension of all faculty until a thorough investigation is carried out; the firing of any faculty found involved in the riot; suspension of students who participated in the chaos; the expulsion of any student who took part in the riot, or promoted it on social media, "with referrals to criminal prosecution as necessary; an audit of social media accounts belonging to all Department of Education personnel; and an audit of curricula "to root out critical theory, gender theory, anti-Western bias, antisemitism, and other ideological poisons."

Entrance to NYC high school

An entrance to Hillcrest High School in Queens, New York. (Google Maps )

"There must be consequences for all involved. The students who organized and participated in this riot must be expelled and face legal prosecution, and school administration and faculty must be thoroughly investigated. It’s time for action. Enough is enough," she added in comment to Fox.

The unidentified teacher told the New York Post that she has never experienced such an incident in her 23 years as an educator in New York City. 

"I have worked hard to be supportive of our entire student body and an advocate for our community, and was shaken to my core by the calls to violence against me that occurred online and outside my classroom last week," the teacher said.

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"No one should ever feel unsafe at school – students and teachers alike," she added.  

The school was placed on lockdown for roughly two hours amid the riot. NYPD officers safely escorted the teacher from the school after arriving on the scene, the New York Post reported. 

People wave Israeli flags in the street in New York

Thousands of Israel supporters gather near Central Park in New York City on Nov. 6, 2023. (Peter Gerber for Fox News Digital)

Other New York leaders and social media commenters have also spoken out against the riot, including Mayor Eric Adams, who slammed the scene as "vile." Some commenters also pinned blame for the incident on the education system for promoting liberal and "woke" ideologies.

"The vile show of antisemitism at Hillcrest High School was motivated by ignorance-fueled hatred, plain and simple, and it will not be tolerated in any of our schools, let alone anywhere else in our city," Adams wrote on X.

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"No one should be surprised by what happened at Hillcrest High School. The indoctrination of school children into Woke ideology has consequences," Princeton University professor of jurisprudence Robert P. George tweeted

"Whether it was one student or multiple students who did or said something, whatever the trigger was, something happened. And I know from my many years on the city council that the counterterrorism task force is not engaged unless they believe it is potentially a serious situation," Democratic City Councilman James Gennaro said, according the New York Post. He said the NYPD’s counterterrorism bureau is also investigating the riot. 

Paladino said "modern progressivism" has failed and it's time for local leaders to offer solutions beyond "condemnations." 

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"Time to face facts, as though it hasn't been obvious for a while now – modern progressivism has failed. It's failed here and it's failed everywhere it's been attempted. The only question now is whether we're going to do something about it, or if we're going to allow it to lead to the horrors we all know are coming. Condemnations aren't enough, it's time for action," she wrote on X. 

Pro-Palestinian protestors on Staten Island

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators march on the St, George Ferry Terminal ramp on Staten Island, New York, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023. (Stephen Yang for Fox News Digital)

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Police arrested one 18-year-old in the case after finding the student allegedly posted threats against the teacher in a group chat, the New York Post reported. The student was charged with aggravated harassment. 

Fox News Digital reached out to Hillcrest inquiring about Paladino’s suggested plan to address the riot, but did not immediately receive a response.  

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