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New Jersey Teen Accused of ‘Bullying’ for Anti-Israel Tweets

A Jewish high school student from New Jersey was accused of “bullying” and threatened with expulsion by school administrators for posting anti-Israel Tweets, angering pro-Palestinian groups and free speech advocates.

Bethany Koval, 16 of Fair Lawn, New Jersey, known as Benny to her Twitter followers, was summoned to the principal’s office for posting a series of tweets showing her support for Palestine. Koval is Israeli.

Gothamist reports that Koval was targeted this week because of a specific tweet in which she expressed happiness for a fellow student unfollowing her. She then told another student she would direct message the name of the girl who unfollowed her. To administrators at Fair Lawn High School, this interaction constituted bullying.

Koval recorded her conversation with an administrator and posted it on Twitter, along with a signed statement of apology she says she was forced to write.

After she posted the recording, her followers began posting tweets with the hashtag #StandWithBenny to show solidarity.

One follower, Noelle Holden of Gilbert, Arizona, started a Go Fund Me page to pay for Koval’s potential lawyer fees if she is sued by the school for recording the conversation with the administrator. So far she’s raised over $400.

Koval is an active Twitter user. She’s posted over 20,000 tweets to her 6,500 followers. Koval posts about a wide variety of topics including politics, feminism, abortion, and education. She tweets well into the night and has intricate conversations with her followers.

This is not the first time her tweets attracted attention. Her tweet from January 3 was read on air to presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.

Koval planned to attend school on Thursday but according to her Twitter, she went home early.

Alexander Shalom, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties’ New Jersey branch, told Gawker the actions taken against Koval constitute “probably the most egregious example” of the state’s bullying law being used to stifle protected political speech.

“The school only has a right to regulate conduct when it has an impact on the orderly operation of the school” he said.

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