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Chappaqua Schools Super Must Be Fired for Failure in Addressing Antisemitism

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By Eric Levine

One need look no further than my hometown of Chappaqua and the Chappaqua Central School District (CCSD) to better understand why there has been a spike in antisemitism on our college campuses and in communities across the country following Hamas’ Oct, 7 terrorist attack against Israel.

As Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christine Ackerman has made clear, when it comes to teaching Middle East history and confronting the unprecedented spike of antisemitism, CCSD is a “safe space” for antisemitism, moral equivalence and fact-free history.

Recently, 450 residents whose children either attend or have attended CCSD, sent a letter to the district asking it to address the alarming rise of antisemitic incidents in the Chappaqua schools and the scourge of anti-Jewish hatred in the community in the wake of “the horrific massacre in Israel on Oct, 7.” In response, CCSD put together a webinar it claimed was designed to address the parents’ concerns.

Following the webinar, Ackerman sent a letter to the CCSD community “to share the feedback…that we’ve received from the recent Middle East webinar and BOE meeting public comment period, along with our proposed plan to address the concerns and questions raised by parents.” The letter reads like a dystopian litany of Orwellian newspeak.

It is difficult to know if Ackerman is obtuse, ignorant or malevolent. Whichever it is, she must resign or be fired immediately. She is not qualified to have any role in educating our children and her salary is a waste of my tax dollars.

Not once does she mention the word antisemitism or the date Oct. 7 in her letter. It is not until she itemizes the “Middle East Webinar & Community Feedback” that the word antisemitism is mentioned. By relegating antisemitism to the feedback and not raising it as a concern in the body of her letter, she makes clear that the rise in antisemitism is a concern she does not share. For her, this is merely an exercise in quieting some unhappy taxpayers.

Nowhere, either in her letter or the feedback section, does she mention Oct. 7. It is like saying one will talk about modern Jewish history but we will skip the Holocaust. It is impossible to believe that oversight was not intentional.

Among some of the more remarkable feedback was in response to CCSD’s admission that it has no working definition of antisemitism. One need look no further than the U.S. Department of State’s working definition, which has been in place since 2010 ( It is consistent with the one adopted on May 26, 2016, by the 31 member states of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) of which the United States is a member.

Included in that definition is the following example: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.” Necessarily encompassed in that definition, is that Israel and the Jewish people have the right to self-defense like any other nation.

Jews represent 2.4 percent of America’s population, yet they are the targets of over 60 percent of the religious-based hate crimes in our country. In addition, as FBI Director Christopher Wray has noted, antisemitic acts have reached “historic levels” since the Oct. 7 attack. Not surprisingly, Ackerman fails to reference any of those facts.

The district must follow the U.S. State Department and adopt its full definition of antisemitism immediately. Anything short of that is to be complicit in antisemitism.

Ackerman also makes clear she has no use for history or facts when they are distractions from her “narrative.” Among the issues Ackerman wants to be addressed falls under the category of “Inclusivity and Diversity in Education.” As she put it: “A significant number of comments call for more inclusive and diverse educational content. This includes a desire for more comprehensive coverage of Middle Eastern history, acknowledgement of Jewish struggles, acknowledgement of the Arab narrative, and the inclusion of a broader range of perspectives in the curriculum.”

How about just teaching history and facts. There are undoubtedly a variety of perspectives, but there is only one set of facts. Ackerman makes clear that “facts” are fluid unknowable things subject only to the whim of the speaker.

What exactly is a narrative? “Mein Kompf” is a narrative. Similarly, the Hamas Charter calling for the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel and the extermination of all Jews is a narrative. Just because they are someone’s narrative does not make their views worthy of teaching as if they are the moral equivalence of historical facts. They are evil and our children need to be taught that those ideologies are evil. Period!

As President Biden said, the Oct. 7 attacks were “pure evil.” Condemning Hamas – a U.S. government-designated terrorist organization – and supporting Israel’s right to self-defense as recognized under international law does not make someone, Islamophobic. It means someone is able to distinguish between good versus evil and right versus wrong. Ackerman’s inability to make this distinction in her letter evidences a moral failing so profound as to disqualify her from working in our schools.

Finally, the Middle East curriculum to which Ackerman refers – Brown University’s Choices Program – is funded by, and crafted in coordination with, the government of Qatar. Qatar is an ally of Iran and Hamas. Not surprisingly, it has an abysmal human rights record. It used slave labor to build the arenas used at the last World Cup. The world, to its eternal shame, remained silent. That is who is drafting the curriculum to teach our children.

Maybe a Putin-funded think tank should have a role in drafting CCSD’s curriculum on European history. Think of all the wonderful narratives our students could be exposed to about Ukraine.

The recent spike in antisemitism is a direct result of what our children are taught. It is within our power to change that. The battle has moved from the college campuses to our community schools. Parents, not school superintendents, know what is best for their children.

I call on the Board of Education to fire Christine Ackerman.

Eric Levine is a 32-year Chappaqua resident whose three children went through the Chappaqua Central School District. He is an attorney with Eiseman Levine Lehrhaupt & Kakoyiannis, P.C. in Manhattan.

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