News Update

East Bay teacher accused of teaching antisemitic conspiracy theories

An East Bay high school teacher is on leave after students complained that he performed a Nazi salute, taught antisemitic conspiracy theories and that Adolf Hitler was not a bad person.

Students and teachers at a school board meeting complained that Mt. Eden High School English teacher Henry Bens remained in his classroom for two months, despite complaints. During this time, students were given “a master class in antisemitism,” Teresa Drenick, deputy regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

About 100 sophomore students are enrolled in Bens’ course. Students read Elie Wiesel’s Holocaust memoir, “Night,” a text required by Hayward Unified School District. But students told The Jewish News of Northern California that Bens also handed out a pamphlet called “The Hidden Tyranny,” subtitled “the Satanic Power which Promotes and Directs Chaos in Order to Lay Low All Civilization in Preparation for a Well-Outlined Plan for World Dictatorship.” It claims to expose a Jewish conspiracy to manipulate the media with the goal of world domination.

“This is something that was written as hate speech, and it continues to be hate speech,” fellow English teacher Heather Eastwood told The Jewish News.

Teachers said they’re frustrated with the lack of response from the administration. History chair Annie Mladinich said they’re concerned about the students who said they now believe in the antisemitic lessons they were taught. She and her colleagues plan to create a lesson plan on antisemitism.

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