An outraged Park Slope teacher says he learned the hard way that it’s OK to wear Black Lives Matter t-shirts to work at his “woke” Brooklyn school — but not pro-cop or pro-Israel garb.
Jeffrey Levy, an English as a Second Language teacher at MS 51 in the liberal Brooklyn enclave, told The Post that school Principal Neal Singh ordered him to stop wearing his “Proud Zionist” t-shirt in the building — even though other staffers have worn shirts touting BLM and women’s rights.
Levy filed a discrimination complaint over not being allowed to wear his self-made shirt, which features the Star of David.
He said he was told by Singh that students and staffers complained about it — and also the pro-police “Back the Blue” t-shirt he’s previously worn.
“Singh told me that my T-shirt with an Israeli flag on it and the words ‘Proud Zionist’ were politically explosive’,” Levy says in his complaint, filed Sept. 30, with the city Department of Education’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity.
“He told me that Zionism involves the retaking of Palestinian land and is ‘offensive,’ ” Levy adds in the complaint, a copy of which The Post reviewed.
Zionism is a religious movement that led to the creation of the State of Israel for Jewish people, he says in the complaint. Palestinians have long claimed the land is theirs.
Levy acknowledged to The Post that he was recently confronted by a student outside school who yelled at him, “Palestine is Palestine!”
“I said, ‘You’re welcome to your opinion,’ ” Levy recalled.
The teacher said the principal’s stance smacks of a double standard.
“Singh has permitted other staff to wear attire with ‘Black Lives Matter,’ ‘Feminism is the radical idea that women are people,’ ‘Feminist’ and ‘O’Connor & Ginsburg & Sotomayor & Kagan,’ ” Levy said, referring to female US Supreme Court justices, in his discrimination complaint.
“Singh’s definition of politically explosive attire appears limited to Jews only,” the teacher claimed.
“None of my attire, actions or beliefs endanger the emotional or physical safety of students or staff, which Singh accused me of. … I have conducted myself professionally and have always respected the beliefs of all while doing my job neutrally and without bias. … His attempt to threaten and intimidate me is anti-Semitic.”
Levy and the group Americans Against Antisemitisim provided The Post with photos showing some of the other t-shirts worn by staff in MS 51.
Singh declined an e-mailed request for comment.
But in a statement to The Post, the DOE backed the principal for instructing Levy, a 20-year veteran, to stop wearing what it deemed politically charged t-shirts.
“Schools are not public forums for advancing personal political views, and per Department of Education regulations, employees are prohibited from using schools for the purpose of political expression,” said DOE spokeswoman Katie O’Hanlon.
“This principal’s request followed complaints from students and staff and is consistent with policies around political neutrality in schools,” she added.
Chancellor’s Regulation D-130 states, “School buildings are not public forums for purposes of community or political expression.
“While on duty or in contact with students, school personnel may not wear buttons, pins, articles of clothing, or any other items advocating a candidate, candidates, slate of candidates or political organization/committee.”
Levy argued that wearing a “Proud Zionist” T-shirt does not violate the chancellor’s regulations.
The controversy comes amid a national debate over social-media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter censoring speech, including content critical of Democrats — such as The Post’s reporting on the shenanigans of Hunter Biden, President Biden’s troubled son.
Former state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who heads the anti-Semitism group, sent a letter to schools Chancellor Meisa Ross Porter going to bat for Levy, charging that district officials were engaging in a “double standard” and “anti-Semitic ignorance.”
“How insulting. This is sick. This is pathetic. This is anti-Semitic,” Hikind raged to The Post on Sunday of the school’s treatment of Levy.
“You can’t say you’re a proud Jew and supportive of the people and the State of Israel?”
Hikind charged that the city DOE is “representing the extreme left, the radical wing of the Democratic Party,” by barring pro-Jewish statements but allowing others to wear attire sympathetic to accepted liberal causes.
“There should be one standard for all. But this is what’s going on in our city,” Hikind said.