A recent social media post by a teacher at the private London Islamic School has raised concerns within the Jewish community about the growing presence of anti-Israel sentiments within schools.
The video featured teacher Sarah Elnaffar reading a poem to a classroom of children, though children cannot be seen in the video. Elnaffar claims the poem was composed by one of her 13-year-old students, which contained a statement calling for Israel to be “banned” and other anti-Israel messaging.
As a private institution, London Islamic School is not regulated by the Ontario Ministry of Education.
In the video posted on TikTok, Elnaffar praised the student for her poem at a time when Canada has been rocked by rising antisemitism and pro-Hamas demonstrations.
“From the river to the sea, Palestine should be free; from our hearts and above, Palestine should be loved; from the sky to space, there should be no struggle Palestinians should face; from the oceans to below, Palestine should be known; from the soil to the sand, Israel should be banned; from the grass to the trees, Palestine should be seen,” recited Elnaffar.
The poem garnered applause from the entire class, with Elnaffar herself commending the poem as “really good.”
Both Elnaffar and the London Islamic School did not respond to True North’s attempts to ask for comment on the matter.
Elanffar has a history of posting anti-Israel content on her social media pages.
According to the Toronto Sun, the principal of the London Islamic School, Samah Al-Sabbagh, has since confirmed that they had a conversation with Elnaffar regarding the video and her social media activity.
However, Al-Sabbagh emphasized that their discussion did not primarily focus on the content of the poem, which some have considered to be anti-Semitic, but rather on the teacher’s decision to post it on social media.
“We did speak to her about posting anything within the school,” Al-Sabbagh said Thursday.
“She is aware of that and she has not posted anything (else).”
At the time of circulation, the video garnered the attention of elected officials including Ontario Progressive Conservative MPP Goldie Ghamari.
The use of the phrase “from the river to the sea” and the call for Israel’s banishment have raised concerns from Jewish community, including from B’nai Brith Canada.
“It is disturbing to learn that there are teachers in Ontario indoctrinating children by praising their use of slogans popularized by the terror group Hamas,” said CEO Michael Mostyn.
“It is our understanding that calling for the erasure of the Jewish state is not currently part of Ontario’s curriculum.”