Trump VP hopeful Elise Stefanik tried to recreate a viral moment on antisemitism in schools. It fell flat

Representative Elise Stefanik, pictured speaking at the US Capitol on 17 April 2024, is one of Donald Trump’s rumored contenders for vice president (AP)
Representative Elise Stefanik, pictured speaking at the US Capitol on 17 April 2024, is one of Donald Trump’s rumored contenders for vice president (AP)

Republicans hoping for a repeat of the viral moment that took down multiple Ivy League university presidents came away disappointed after attempts to create conflict with a trio of K-12 school officials from Democratic jurisdictions fell flat.

On Wednesday, a session of the House Education and Workforce Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education was held on antisemitism. Representative Aaron Bean opened the hearing by claiming that “kids as young as second graders” in public schools are “spewing Nazi propaganda” in liberal cities.

Bean then asked whether the alleged propaganda-spewing children in second grade were ”positioned” to “attack the Jewish people” in the wake of the October 7 terror attacks on Israel by Hamas.

Republicans directed most of their ire during the session towards David Banks, the New York City Public Schools chancellor, and pushed him to speak about an incident at a New York high school in which a pro-Israel teacher was the subject of a protest.

Banks repeatedly told multiple lawmakers that the principal of that school was removed from his position after the protest incident. But they appeared unsatisfied by his answer because he would not say that the principal in question was fired.

Representative Elise Stefanik — the New York congresswoman and alleged Donald Trump vice presidential hopeful whose viral confrontation with the former leaders of Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania led to both being ousted from their positions — said it was “concerning” that the New York principal remained employed by the school system.

She accused Banks and other witnesses of paying “lip service” to fighting antisemitism but presiding over a “lack of enforcement” and “a lack of accountability” in practice.

But Banks wasn’t willing to take the attacks lying down. Instead, he pointed out that the principal, a public school employee, was entitled to due process and the protections granted him by his union contract. Banks also added that his school system has suspended roughly 30 students and disciplined teachers for actions considered to be antisemitic.

“I stand up not only against antisemitism,” he said. “I stand up against Islamophobia and all other forms of hate. You can’t put them in silos.”

The panel’s ranking member, Representative Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon, pointed out that despite her Republican colleagues’ professed concern for antisemitism in the wake of October 7, they still openly support Donald Trump. The former president has met with and even embraced multiple people who have publicly made extreme antisemitic statements, including white supremacist activist Nick Fuentes and rapper Kanye West.

“Despite these persistent examples of comments that others have called antisemitic and continued relationships with well-known antisemites, I have not heard one word of concern from my colleagues across the aisle,” Bonamici said. “In fact, what we have seen is consolidation of support for the former president.”