Israel-Hamas War

High school yearbook entry expresses happiness over Oct. 7 attacks in Israel, sparking outrage

Glenbrook South High School said it wanted to "express our profound regret" as it received a "large number of questions" surrounding the piece in the book titled "October 7 War in Gaza"

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A suburban high school released a statement as it investigates an entry published in its yearbook, which expressed happiness over the Oct. 7 attacks against Israel that sparked an ongoing conflict in the region.

Glenbrook South High School said it wanted to "express our profound regret" as it received a "large number of questions" surrounding the piece in the book titled "October 7 War in Gaza."

In the section describing the conflict, Hamas was described as a “militant group,” rather than as a “terrorist organization,” as it has been labeled by the U.S. State Department. An accompanying post by a student expressed "happiness" over the attacks against Israel on Oct. 7, citing the history of conflict between Palestinians and Israel.

Oct. 7 marked the day of Hamas’ surprise attack into southern Israel, in which it killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took another 250 hostages. Hamas is still believed to be holding around 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others after some hostages were released during a November cease-fire.

"The statements in the piece in no way represent the views of Glenbrook South or District 225. We recognize the feelings, fear and pain related to the content in the yearbook, and we want to assure you that we are in conversation with many students, families, staff and community members about this situation," the school said in a statement. "Glenbrook South has a long history of prioritizing the safety and well-being of our students. We are committed to ensuring that all those impacted by the statements published in the yearbook feel safe and supported while at school."

The school said it was first made aware of the yearbook situation on Thursday and "initiated an investigation that will continue until we reach a resolution."

"Our goal is to ensure that all students and staff feel safe and are valued. We are exploring all options to remedy this deeply offensive and regrettable situation," the statement read.  

The entry led to a packed auditorium at the school on Tuesday, with community members speaking out and expressing their disbelief that the comment was put in the yearbook.

“As an alumna, I find it despicable that yearbook meant to celebrate the high school is instead documenting hatred and violence,” one speaker said during the meeting. “This is not free speech. This is a matter of recognizing hate speech in all its forms.”

Many parents and fellow students questioned why it was allowed to be published in the yearbook.

“I’m just like, 'How is this okay? Who let this be okay?'” Glenbrook North student Claire Eisenstadt said. “It’s just insane to see it published in my own district.”

The school board began the meeting by condemning the comments and announced it would investigate how they came to be published. The board will release a full report upon completion of the investigation.

Many attendees also expressed their concerns over vitriol directed at the 15-year-old student who made the remarks, citing worries over the physical safety of the teen.

“I don’t believe this student should be doxed online as she has been,” Glenbrook South alum Saddia Malik said.  

Rabbi Aaron Braun of the Northbrook Community Synagogue also said the situation could serve as a teaching moment.

“They didn’t protect the student who wrote this opinion or educate them well enough about what the impacts of what they wrote would have on the community,” he said.

Caryn Flieger echoed those sentiments.

“Every time a mistake is made, that division gets worse. Take this opportunity to learn,” she said.

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