update deskAntisemitism

Teaneck education board ‘tolerated hate,’ local Jewish group says

One week after a meeting, the board has yet to condemn “vile antisemitism which we all witnessed,” said the Bergen County Jewish Action Committee.

Rick Whilby (center in gray shirt, with scarf) after delivering an antisemitic rant at a Teaneck education board meeting on Dec. 13, 2023. Source: Screenshot.
Rick Whilby (center in gray shirt, with scarf) after delivering an antisemitic rant at a Teaneck education board meeting on Dec. 13, 2023. Source: Screenshot.

During the public comment portion of a Teaneck, N.J. education board meeting on Dec. 13, Rick Whilby got the last word, after a virtual caller did not answer.

“From the river to the sea, by any means necessary way,” Whilby said, according to video footage which JNS viewed. He then quoted passages from the New Testament addressing liars and the “blasphemy” of those who claim to be Jews but are part of the “synagogue of Satan.”

“I’m reading from the Bible, sir,” he said. “I’m from the Caribbean. Within the Caribbean, we had plantations that were ran by Jews. You cannot teach us anything about genocide. Our genocide, was 400 years running.”

“The countless black victims of our Holocaust, you can’t even equate or put a number to,” he added.

“Disgusting,” someone yelled, as attendees appeared to walk out of the meeting, as the antisemitic rant continued, often with vulgar language.

The board adjourned the public session. “It shows we cannot hold a civil dialogue,” one of the board members said. (In the video clip that JNS viewed, the man appeared to be Sebastian Rodriguez, the board president.)

Someone else yelled out that the students invited Whilby to speak at an anti-Israel “walkout” rally at Teaneck schools last month.

When an apparently-Orthodox Jewish man asked if the board was suspending public comment due to the one man, the board member said, “Because of everything.”

A week after the meeting, the Bergen County Jewish Action Committee  released a statement condemning the board and Andre Spencer, superintendent of Teaneck Public Schools, for failing to condemn antisemitism.

“Yet again, and this time before the Teaneck community’s very eyes, Teaneck’s Board of Education and superintendent tolerated hate on school grounds,” stated Yigal Gross, a member of the Jewish group’s executive committee.

“One week after the meeting, they still have not condemned the vile antisemitism which we all witnessed, and that is even more shocking,” Gross added.

On Nov. 29, Teaneck High School chanted “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” during a “pro-Palestinian” rally on public school grounds, during school hours, according to the Jewish group. “A number of Jewish students stayed home from Teaneck High School out of concern for their safety,” it said.

Emma Horowitz, president of the Bergen County Jewish Action Committee, called Whilby’s rant “a medieval antisemitic screed.”

“Ricardo ‘Rick’ Whilby, an Englewood tow truck operator who has publicly expressed support for terrorism against Jews and the violent destruction of Israel, came to the meeting to endorse the sentiments voiced by Teaneck High School students at the rally, where he had been a featured speaker,” the Jewish group said.

“Whilby was cheered by Teaneck High School students as he described Jews as the ‘children of Satan’ and accused them of perpetuating ‘a genocide in the Caribbean,'” it added.

“This is no longer about some student rally or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said Chana Shields, a member of the Jewish group’s executive committee. “This is now about a school district’s shocking tolerance of wholesale racism and incitement.”

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