Schoolhouse Hate

Employee at State Department sponsored school engages in anti-Semitic hate speech

June 15, 2012

An official at a State Department-sponsored school in Jordan defended her right to post an anti-Semitic rant in the comments section of a website that aims to combat anti-Semitism, a move that has stoked concerns about the school’s curriculum. 

Dima Subeih serves as an administrative assistant at the American Community School in Amman, Jordan. The school, which offers an "American educational program" in the heart of the Middle East, is partially funded by State Department grants and supervised by the U.S. diplomatic mission in Jordan.

Subeih’s anti-Semitic comments were posted on the pro-Israel website CiF Watch under her official school email address. Responding to an article about the cancellation of a Tel Aviv performance by a symphony orchestra that exclusively plays music written by Richard Wagner—an anti-Semite whose work was appropriated by the Nazi regime—Subeih said that Israelis are whiny murderers. (All comments appear here as they originally appeared at CiF Watch, including grammatical errors.)

"So let me get this straight, while Israel continues to brutally kill innocent Palestinian children and mothers every single day and perform all acts of brutality forming Palestinian genocide. However, they still whine and play victims," she wrote. "They are doing to Palestinian what has been done to them by Hitler."

Subeih, who apparently plays a role in selecting the American Community School’s student body, goes on to say that she cannot "coexist" with Israelis, who she dubs "worse than Hitler."

"[I] can never go back to Palestine because I cannot take the humiliation that we have undergo when we go into the boarder," wrote Subeih, who also serves as a representative of the American Community Organization, which oversees the school. "How do u ask me to coexist with Israeli, if you don't think that I have the right to exist as a Palestinian???"

"Whoever chooses to be silent about what is happening against my people is far worse than Hitler, because Human beings evolve with time and because Jews have tasted the bitter taste of prejudice, discrimination and hate," she added.

Subeih admitted in a later comment that she had posted her comments from work.

"I may post new comments every time and don’t answer all ur comments ‘because [I] am at work’ but I surely never called u a dog who is barking … still, i will not stoop to ur level. Too bad the holocaust did not wipe off people with ur mentality off the face of the earth! Too bad people like u exist."

Subeih ends her rant by proclaiming that she will never refer to Israel as such: "U can call it Israel, I will simply call it Palestine, which is occupied by israel."

Adam Levick, the managing editor of CiF Watch, was disturbed by Subeih’s outburst.

"The unbridled hatred—and appalling lack of sobriety, common sense, and historical proportion—which informs the morally odious charge, by Ms. Subeih, that Israeli Jews are treating Palestinians like Nazis treated European Jews during the Holocaust, makes you wonder what precisely is being taught about the Middle East at this U.S. funded school," he told the Free Beacon via email.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, decried Subeih’s comments as "deeply disturbing," yet all too common among Jordanian Palestinians.

"It’s pretty depressing," Cooper responded when informed of Subeih’s comments. "We have to go one level deeper and find out whether or not that is reflected in [the school’s] curriculum."

Cooper noted that Subeih’s comments are reflective of a mindset that permeates the Arab world, particularly in the countries surrounding Israel.

"There’s no respect for the Jewish narrative or understanding of it," he explained. Subeih has been "fed a steady diet of, ‘It’s all the Jews’ fault.’ Her words are the fruits an educational system that has never wavered."

"Her words should be an eye-opener to Americans: This is what sophisticated, educated people have been taught" in the Arab world, Cooper said.

A State Department spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Subeih defended her remarks when approached by the Free Beacon, but admitted that she should not have used her official school email account.

"Yes, maybe I'm not supposed to use my work email account," Subeih said via email, noting that the conversation riled her emotions.

Subeih, who said that she is not religious, maintains that her outburst was not fueled by hate.

"I'm politically open and liberal and hate being labeled as prejudiced but when someone ridicules your ancestors and your homeland and uses obscene language that I cannot even translate, you cannot help but feel provoked," explained Subeih, noting that she leaves her current job this week to move to Canada.

She maintained that she is not an anti-Semite, and only wrote the vitriolic diatribe in response to another commenter who offended her.

"I was trying to mention how I am against all types of killing of innocent lives whether Palestinian or Israelis," she wrote. "That person attacked me personally and I kept telling that person that I know Jews who are totally against what some Israelis are doing in Palestine. I am against Hamas and what they stand for and against killing."

"I am not anti-Semitic because I myself am an Arab and We come from Semitic origin. I should have probably used my yahoo [email] account," she wrote, closing with "have a good day and lesson learned never use my work account."

Hadar Sela, a Middle East writer and researcher, expressed alarm over Subeih’s use of her official school email account.

"Ms. Subeih's open use of an American Community School e-mail account in order to post a comment containing baseless accusations of genocide and anti-Semitic Nazi analogies raises serious concerns about the climate of thought in an educational establishment funded by the American tax-payer via the State Department and overseen by a representative of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Amman, among others," Sela said. "One would hope to see the school itself, along with the bodies mentioned above and the American Community Organization—of which Ms. Subeih is an active member—take a firm line on behavior such as this which is clearly opposed to American values."

The American Community School appears to derive a portion of its funds from the U.S. State Department Office of Overseas Schools, which lists the institution as one of its "assisted schools."

The school—which bills itself as U.S.-accredited, independent, and non-profit—is also listed as an approved place of employment for spouses of U.S diplomats. The U.S. embassy in Amman apparently has a representative on the school’s board of trustees.

Rabbi Cooper said the episode should prompt larger questions about the Middle East’s educations system, which often promotes intolerance and teaches children to despise Israel.

"The most important question to really ask of the embassy [in Jordan] is, ‘Are there any places right now in Jordanian society where you don’t hear this?’" Cooper said. "It’s the currently prevailing attitude."