Bay Ridge teacher criticized for making anti-Palestinian remarks on social media

fort hamilton school bay ridge
A teacher at P.S. 104/The Fort Hamilton School is under fire after making anti-Arab comments online.
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

A Fort Hamilton School teacher is being criticized after allegedly making anti-Palestinian comments like “Let Gaza burn” on social media, as was first reported by the New York Post

Robert Rossicone, a teacher at P.S. 104 The Fort Hamilton School in Bay Ridge, was first called out online by Stop Arab Hate, an online group known to bring attention to anti-Arab and Islamophobic speech, for using his personal Instagram account to post anti-Arab comments in regards to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

In a Nov. 25 post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Stop Arab Hate shared posts allegedly made by Rossicone. The posts read “Let Gaza burn” and “There are no innocents.”

Rossicone and David Pretto, superintendent for P.S./I.S. 104, did not respond to Brooklyn Paper’s requests for comment.

“Should Arab and Muslim children feel safe in his classroom?” the organization wrote online. 

Council Member Justin Brannan and Senator Andrew Gournardes released a joint statement on the incident in support of increased respect and safety in Brooklyn schools. 

“Students deserve to feel safe, respected, and supported at our schools. All students: of all backgrounds, all religions, and of all beliefs. And to thrive, our community needs them to feel that way too,” the pols said. “Recently, harmful, hateful, Islamophobic remarks made by a teacher in our district have undermined that sense of safety and respect in our school system.”

Southern Brooklyn is home to a large Palestinian and Middle Eastern community. In Bay Ridge 7,771 people are reported to have Arab ancestry. Brooklyn is also home to a significant Jewish population — roughly 600,000 Jewish people call the borough home, more than in any other borough. The war has inflamed tensions between the two communities in Brooklyn and across the city. 

With the responsibility of supporting a hugely diverse neighborhood, the two pols shared the importance of uniting together as a community and holding one another accountable. 

“We want to make a few things very clear: there is no room in our schools or our community for hate of any kind: not Islamophobia, not anti-Semitism, not anything. When we say hate has no home here that includes our schools,” they said. “To kids and families of all backgrounds in our community: we have your back. You belong here, you contribute wonderful things to our neighborhoods, and you are certainly not animals. There is room for all of us, disagreements and all, and we will always fight to keep it that way.”

Other Brooklynites have taken to social media to call Rossicone out. 

Sherwet Mohamed, a Brooklyn native, started and shared a petition to have the middle school teacher removed from his position with the Department of Education. 

“His past and current student body are mainly of Middle Eastern/Muslim background and for the safety of our students and community he should no longer be an educator when he openly stated his hate for them! His Racism and Bigotry is not welcomed in our community,” Mohamed said online. 

The petition has gotten 480 signatures since being posted on Nov. 27.

On Nov. 27, Stop Arab Hate said in a post on X that Rossicone had not showed up at work that day, and that students did not expect him to return.