US teacher threatens to behead middle school student in Israeli flag row

A middle school teacher has been arrested after threatening to behead a middle school student who told him that having the Israeli flag in his class was offensive, according to reports from Saturday.

The 7th-grade teacher, 51-year-old Benjamin Reese, was arrested on December 8 on the charges of terrorist threats and cruelty to children in the third degree, the Houston County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

The student, who CNN reported was a female 13-year-old Muslim student, had allegedly been bypassing the class with friends when they saw the Israeli flag being displayed. The student said she told Reese that this was offensive to them. Reese told the student he had the flag because “he was Jewish and has family members that still live there” before getting increasingly upset.

The incident was allegedly witnessed by 18 students and multiple staff who overheard the comments Reese made.

A kid holds an Israeli flag to protest about the conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Brussels, Belgium, October 9, 2023. (credit: REUTERS/Johanna Geron)

What was heard?

 A student told police they heard Reese threaten to “cut her head off,” the incident report said. 

Reese posted a $7,500 bond Sunday and was released from the Houston County Detention Center, according to NBC News.

CAIR responds to the incident

“We welcome the swift action against Benjamin Reese including the charges and arrest in connection with the horrific threats he allegedly made to a child. We also appreciate his suspension from Warner Robins Middle School. However, we remain concerned that Benjamin Reese is free in the Warner Robins community,” CAIR said in a statement.

“We hope that the Board of Education will take the appropriate steps to ensure that, if this teacher indeed made the remarks he is accused of making, is not allowed back in classrooms where he can cause immeasurable harm to Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian students. CAIR-Georgia is working with the family to ensure the safety of the student and the Warner Robins community at large.” 

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