The Israeli Ministry of Education has confirmed that it will remove any references to renowned climate activist Greta Thunberg for openly declaring her support of Hamas-led Gaza in the ongoing war.
“Hamas is a terrorist organization responsible for the murder of 1,400 innocent Israelis, including children, women, and the elderly, and it has abducted over 200 people to Gaza,” the Ministry said in a statement reported by the Jerusalem Post.
Her decision to support Hamas has disqualified her from being “a moral and educational role model” to Israeli students, the Ministry clarified.
“She is no longer eligible to serve as an inspiration and educator for Israeli students.”
The Controversial Stance
Thunberg has faced fierce criticism for taking a lopsided stance on the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, triggered by the terrorist attack on Israeli communities near the border with Gaza on Saturday, October 7.
“Today, we strike in solidarity with Palestine and Gaza. The world needs to speak up and call for an immediate ceasefire, justice, and freedom for Palestinians and all civilians affected,” she wrote in a post shared on X (formerly Twitter) on Friday, October 20.
Under her controversial statement, Thunberg posted a picture of herself holding a placard on which “STAND WITH GAZA” was written. Three friends stood beside her, reinforcing her message with different pro-Palestine writings and drawings.
One of the women beside her held a sign stating, “THIS JEW STANDS WITH PALESTINE,” while another had a drawing of the Palestinian flag with “FREE PALESTINE” written over it.
Her post was widely interpreted as an anti-Israel campaign, sparking outrage on X, and many condemned her for not directly condemning Hamas for its terrorist attack against Israel.
“You say you are against antisemitism, yet you can’t say a word to condemn Hamas or express solidarity for the 1,400 people – including children – they have slaughtered,” commented Arsen Ostrovsky, a leading international human rights lawyer and CEO of the International Legal Forum.
Week 270. Today we strike in solidarity with Palestine and Gaza. The world needs to speak up and call for an immediate ceasefire, justice and freedom for Palestinians and all civilians affected.#FreePalestine #IStandWithPalestine #StandWithGaza #FridaysForFuture— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) October 20, 2023
The Open Letter to Thunberg
In response to Thunberg’s support for Palestine, more than 100 Israeli environmental activists have signed an open letter written to her, with others responding to her comments directly on social media.
The leaders said they were “deeply hurt, shocked and disappointed with [her] tweets and posts regarding Gaza, which are appallingly one-sided, ill-informed, superficial and are in complete contrast to [her] ability to deep dive into details and get to the bottom of complex issues.”
“Is this the way you imagine fighting for human rights? With cold-blooded killings of civilians, violent rape of women, and kidnapping of infants and the elderly?” the writers asked, expressing their disappointment over Thunberg’s sentiments.
“Does any of this sound like a part of the fight for freedom? Are you seriously standing with the people who hold a grandmother with her grandchildren?”
The Environmental leaders, spearheaded by Rony Bruell, founder of the Israeli Forum of Women in the Environment, also urged Thunberg to learn more about the conflict before picking and promoting a side.
“We expect you and your family will never have to run for your lives and lose sleep worrying for your loved ones, but if this ever happens, we promise not to side with your abusers,” the letter concluded emotionally.
An Innocent Mistake
In her initial photo shared in solidarity with Palestinians, online users quickly noticed a prominently placed white toy octopus in the background. This raised concerns about potential associations with antisemitism. However, Thunberg quickly pulled down the post and apologized.
“We are, of course, against any type of discrimination and condemn antisemitism in all forms and shapes. This is non-negotiable. That is why I deleted the last post,” she stated.
Although the octopus symbol can be associated with antisemitism, Thunberg clarified that autistic people also use it to express their feelings.
It has come to my knowledge that the stuffed animal shown in my earlier post can be interpreted as a symbol for antisemitism, which I was completely unaware of. The toy in the picture is a tool often used by autistic people as a way to communicate feelings.— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) October 20, 2023
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This article has been produced by TPR Teaching. Image Credit: Liv Oeian / Shutterstock.com
Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.