A Brooklyn teacher, Robert Rossicone, from PS 104, is facing backlash for his inflammatory social media comments, including statements like “Let Gaza Burn” and “There are no innocents.” Pro-Palestinian activists are now calling for an investigation by the city Department of Education into the remarks made by the Fort Hamilton School instructor.
The elementary-middle school, known for serving students from the largest Palestinian-American and Arabic communities in the state, became the center of attention after Rossicone’s comments were brought to light. In response to a Hamas video depicting a surprise attack on Israel, Rossicone wrote, “Look at these ANIMALS. And the people who support this, or call for a ceasefire, are dogs as well.”
Screenshots of Rossicone’s comments were shared by the group Stop Arab Hate on social media, with a caption highlighting his role as a social studies educator at PS/IS 104 and quoting his derogatory remarks. The controversy follows recent incidents involving educators expressing controversial views on the Israel-Hamas conflict.
This incident echoes the situation at Cornell University, where an associate professor, Russell Rickford, faced criticism and took a leave of absence for his comments on the Hamas attack. In a viral video, Rickford described the attack as “exhilarating” and “energizing,” emphasizing its impact on shifting the balance of politics in the region.
Russell’s comments during a pro-Palestinian protest stirred controversy as he expressed support for the attack, stating that it punctured the illusion of Israel’s invincibility. His remarks on the blockade of the Gaza Strip since 2007 and the impact of the attack on Palestinians were met with both support and condemnation.
These instances underscore the challenges faced by educational institutions in managing the public expression of controversial opinions by their staff, raising questions about the boundaries of free speech and professional conduct.