High School Harasses Teen For Being Pro-Palestine On Twitter

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The school officials not only accused the 16-year-old of bullying, they denied her right to an attorney. Luckily, the teen recorded it all.

Bethany Koval

A high school in New Jersey is getting a lot of heat from rights activists after a student recorded the principal accusing her of “bullying” for being pro-Palestine on Twitter.

Bethany Koval, a student at Fair Lawn High School, claimed in a series on tweets that she was sent to the principal’s office after a classmate saw her tweets about Gaza bombings and filed a complaint with school officials.

Koval, who is Israeli-Jewish herself, published a series of social media posts during the holiday break where she criticized the Jewish state for its atrocities against the Arabs. At one point, she even called Israel a "terrorist force” for killing 2,104 innocent Palestinians in 2014 bombings.

Although the 16-year-old’s statements and views remained confined to Twitter, on Wednesday Principal James Marcella confronted her with the printouts of her social media updates and threatened to file a bullying case against her.

In series of recordings the teen took on her phone during the meeting, the principal can be heard saying that he is considering filing a “bully report.” When Koval disagreed and said she has not done anything “problematic,” Marcella replied, “Well, that's your interpretation. There's a state law that might interpret it differently.”

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The school denied her right to an attorney since the principal wasn’t acting on the police’s behalf. However, they forced Koval to make a written statement.

It appears either the school officials do not have the ability to differentiate between freedom of expression and bullying, or that the officials were just unhappy that one of their students was sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.

Ironically, a part of Fair Lawn High School’s mission statement reads, "We believe that the optimal environment is one in which students feel free to challenge themselves and have opportunities to take initiative, to articulate clearly and imaginatively, to be creative, and to learn from their inquiry and experience.”

The school allowed Koval to rescind her forced statement and draw something up for a meeting scheduled Thursday morning, when the school officials will supposedly mete out some sort of justice. She believes she's been targeted because she’s “not pro-Israel.”

She also claimed that she did not intend to start a controversy. She only posted the recording on the Internet because she was scared and worried. Koval is also worried for her parents whom she described as “apolitical” and as of now, “REALLY mad.”

Although the high schooler is currently seeking legal advice, the question is, how does expressing pro-Palestine views could constitute bullying?

Meanwhile, Koval’s followers have coined a hashtag #StandWithBenny to show their support.

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