Palestinian Speaker Declines Friends’ Central Invitation Following Teacher Firings

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A water map at Friends’ Central School

Thanks, but no thanks.

That what Swarthmore College professor Sa’ed Atshan effectively told Friends’ Central School on May 15 when he was invited back to the school.

That follows on the heels of the May 9 firing of the two Friends’ Central teachers who first invited the controversial Palestinian speaker to address students over the winter.

In a show of solidarity for English teacher Ariel Eure, 25, and history teacher Layla Helwa, 26, Atshan informed the school he will not come until the teachers are reinstated.

The controversy came to a head in February when it was announced Atshan would address Friends’ Central’s Peace and Equality Club, which was formed in December. Pressured to legitimize the club, sponsors Eure and Helwa invited Atshan, drawing a firestorm of protest.

Atshan’s appearance was subsequently cancelled, which led to student demonstrations during the time he had been scheduled to speak.

Three days later Eure and Helwa, who were present during those demonstrations, were told they were being placed on paid administrative leave while the school conducted an investigation.

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