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Another Victory for Hamas High By: Eric Danis
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Readers may remember Ron Francis as the physics teacher in Andover High School in Massachusetts who paid his public-school students to work for his anti-Israel political organization, defended the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, and mused about becoming a suicide bomber.

Now Francis has struck again at his school. In a recent missive to an e-mail list of the Green-Rainbow Party, he revealed that he is quite pleased with his latest attempt to brainwash Andover students:

Last Month the Wheels of Justice human rights group was blocked from speaking at Andover High school because pro-apartheid (Jimmy Carter's words ! now) forces, including the ADL and other zionists, pressured the Andover Public Schools Administration to not allow the Wheels of Justice peace group to speak at Andover High School.

In a dramatic turn-around, that decision has been reversed today thanks to the intervention of the ACLU and several social studies teachers who were prepared to go to court over the matter. Negotiations between the School Committee lawyer and the ACLU led to the school administration agreeing to have the Wheels of Justice speak at the high school and also paying the expenses to bring the Wheels of Justice back.

Typically for Francis, he refuses to capitalize the word “Zionism,” and insists that all supporters of Israel are “pro-Apartheid.” For those unfamiliar with the Palestinian propaganda group Wheels of Justice (WoJ), it sufficiently demonstrates its political agenda, noting that one WoJ speaker has described the U.S. media as a “campaign of misinformation by Zionist-leaning news editors,” while another has called Zionism “a disease.”

It was Francis who originally contacted the WoJ to speak at his high school’s social studies conference. Despite the impropriety of a teacher turning a school-sponsored conference into a de facto political rally, Francis has never been publicly reprimanded by the school’s administration.

However, after receiving complaints from a local rabbi and the Anti-Defamation League, the school’s administration has at last taken action against Francis’s brainwashing attempts by canceling the WoJ’s appearance. One of the factors cited in support of the cancellation was a lack of balance, since no pro-Israel speakers were scheduled to speak at AHS (although there were vague claims about an unnamed “second group of presenters at a later date.”)

The school’s decision won broad community support. In the aftermath of the cancellation, the two most influential Andover newspapers, the Eagle-Tribune and the Andover Townsman, published editorials agreeing with the decision to cancel the WoJ‘s appearance. “Allowing outside groups of any ideological stripe to come in and proselytize students detracts from the educational function of schools. Teachers who claim they merely seek to provide a range of world perspectives but refuse to permit opposing views are not interested in education. They're seeking indoctrination of students,” said the Tribune’s editorial board.

Francis, for his part, was livid. Rather than accept the school’s decision, Francis has rebelled against it. After the cancellation of the WoJ speakers, Francis attempted to turn his students against the administration by petitioning them during school hours. About 1,000 students were given a sheet of paper with the headline “Speakers on human rights for Palestinians invited and then blocked at last minute by administration.” Prominent in bold letters, a question asked: “Do you trust teachers to present educationally sound material and ensure that their classes explore all sides of issues?” The paper was signed “Dr. R. Francis.” For this campaign to recruit students into his radical political cause, as for others he has undertaken in the school, Francis has never been disciplined.

To be sure, Francis has his allies. Most outspoken among them is Tommy Meyers, the president of the Andover Teachers Union. Meyers has previously used his position in the union to back Francis’s political views. In particular, he has portrayed the decision to cancel the WoJ’s appearance as a violation of Francis’s First Amendment rights. After contacting the American Civil Liberties Union, Meyers has even threatened a lawsuit on Francis’s behalf.

"Despite the school's new plans for a forum with speakers on both sides of the conflict, Meyers said he will still sue if the school does not allow those original seminars to take place as planned," the Eagle-Tribune has reported. “Prohibiting Wheels of Justice to speak at the school violates the First Amendment, he said.” Such statements make the idea of Meyers as a free-speech advocate difficult to credit. He clearly rejects a balanced forum that would allow pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian speakers to be heard. Like Francis, Meyers supports free speech -- unless it is used by defenders of Israel.

Their dubious motivations notwithstanding, the various threats by Meyers, Francis and the ACLU have apparently been effective. The high school administration has once more agreed to host the WoJ. According to a statement by the school principal, Peter Anderson, WoJ will come to Andover High for one in a series of three forums, each of which will allegedly offer varying perspective on Middle East conflicts.

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Ron Francis has succeeded in yet another attempt to push his Palestinian propaganda on Andover high schools students. Chalk up another victory for “Hamas High” -- and another loss for Andover residents.

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Eric Danis is a former Andover resident now living as a citizen in Israel.

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