Teachers lose jobs for sharing anti-Israel views with students
Bronx, New York – The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed two casualties at the pricey Riverdale Country School.
Two history teachers lost their jobs at the Bronx private school after a parental uprising over how they communicated anti-Israel views to students.
“We have looked into questions that were raised about the conduct of a very small number of faculty members and have initiated conversations with the faculty both broadly and specifically about the most effective and appropriate ways to deal with controversial subjects,” according to a letter to parents sent last week by Riverdale headmaster Dominic Randolph and board chairman David Westin. “As a result of these events, two faculty members will not be returning in September, and though the reasons are different, both are linked to this situation.”
The teachers were identified by a source as Shawn Redden and Joel Doerfler.
Controversy at the school erupted in May after Israeli soldiers killed 60 Palestinians at the Gaza border. The terror group Hamas has said most of those killed were its members.
Redden, according to one parent, went on a classroom tirade against Israel and verbally attacked students. Redden told The Post he hadn’t attacked anyone.
The school started an investigation and suspended him with pay.
Parents are also upset about a 2016 talk given by Doerfler, who taught a class on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that was published on the pro-Palestinian Mondoweiss web site.
Doerfler said “there exists at Riverdale, and in the culture at large, assertive, influential and highly emotional supporters of Israel and of pretty much everything it does and has done, who are hell-bent on stifling … academic investigation.”
And he described a group of “particularly obnoxious parents (whose children, by the way, weren’t even in my class)” who “harassed the school administration about my teaching.”
More than 150 parents met with school administrators last month to “share horrifying and upsetting incidents of faculty intellectual bullying” and a pattern of anti-Israel incidents, according to one parent present.
Last week’s letter to parents said the school would “formulate more specific guidelines to foster constructive and respectful debate around controversial subjects and how we manage the teaching of facts versus interpretations.”
Redden declined to comment. Doerfler did not respond to a request for comment.