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The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

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Board to hold special meeting denouncing hatred regarding Hamas attacks

Members of the Palo Alto community who attended the emotional school board meeting Tuesday night listen to comments during open forum. Many of the speakers urged the board to release a statement speaking out against antisemitism and Islamophobia in light of recent events. According to senior Anna Ghereghlou, students need support during this difficult situation. “Both sides need somebody to stand up for them, and that’s what the students are doing, especially the students that are from those countries,” Ghereghlou said. (Photo: Celina Lee)

Editor’s Note: This story was updated Oct. 27 to correct the previous version of this article, which incorrectly stated that there was one resolution. There are two separate resolutions. 

The Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education will host a special meeting 8:30 a.m. today at the District Office to vote on two resolutions to condemn antisemitism and Islamophobia in the community in light of the Israel-Hamas war that began on Oct. 7.

Twenty-four members of the community — consisting of students, parents, teachers and staff — asked the board Tuesday night to send a clear message to PAUSD families to support students and stand in solidarity to denounce antisemitism and Islamophobia. Many expressed disappointment that an original resolution denouncing antisemitism was pulled by the board. Speakers argued that it is necessary for the board to speak out about the matter, emphasizing the importance of ensuring a safe learning environment and condemning hatred of any kind.

Board Member Shana Segal said during Tuesday’s board meeting that the original resolution was written to address the fears of students caused by the Oct. 7 attacks.

“Given the circumstances, we felt that it was important for the board to draft a resolution denouncing antisemitism, Islamophobia, bigotry, hatred and intolerance while expressing support for our Jewish students,” Segal said.

According to Segal, the resolution originally posted by the board was pulled because parts of the community felt like they were not heard.

“Although our intent was to help, it became clear when the resolution was posted online in our board packet that many in the community felt unseen and unheard,” Segal said. “They were expressing suffering and experiencing fear for their own.”

Gunn High School senior Annabel Honigstein spoke during open forum to urge board members to release statements about the matter. Honigstein said the recent attacks have impacted her family, friends and larger Jewish community.

“I wanted to speak because I was born in Israel, and I have family in Israel as well,” Honigstein told The Paly Voice. “Friends and people we know are hostages right now. People sometimes don’t understand that everything is so intimate for us. Every single Jewish or Israeli person I know, knows someone that’s died in the past week, two weeks [or] three weeks.”

Honigstein said the recent attacks triggered memories of a terrorist attack from two years ago and could have a similar impact on other Jewish students.

“I have PTSD from a terrorist attack, and honestly, the same fears are coming back now,” Honigstein said. “That’s true for a lot of Jewish students and it’s really important that student voices are heard on forums like this.”

According to Honigstein, the board should prioritize student needs by listening to and addressing their concerns.

“The school board deals with students, and if it’s impacting us, then that’s inherently their issue to deal with,” Honigstein said. “I understand the stress around phrasing and not wanting to offend people, but, on the other hand, when they’re being quiet and not saying anything and pushing resolutions, all we hear is that they don’t care about us, we’re not their priority and they care more about potentially offending people than our safety. But, at the end of the day, it’s not about politics, it’s about student safety.”

Palo Alto High School senior Anna Ghereghlou, who is a member of the Middle Eastern and North African Club, said many students are facing pressure to speak out amid the wave of silence.

“I know a lot of students who are feeling a large amount of silence and pressure being put on them to make statements and to be public about political things that are going on right now,” Ghereghlou told The Paly Voice. “Everybody else should respect their opinions and understand that we’re all here to support each other and help the world.”

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About the Contributors
Celina Lee
Celina Lee, Editor-in-Chief
Nathan Jiang
Nathan Jiang, Editor-in-Chief, Webmaster
Nathan Jiang (Class of 2025) joined The Voice in his sophomore year and enjoys playing tennis, learning and loves meeting new people!

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    Spencer Wu-ChinOct 28, 2023 at 10:10 am

    What a great article, the writers are wonderful journalists!