A California high school teacher saluted Hitler in class and told students that they were “indoctrinated” when it came to the truth about Jewish people and the Holocaust, according to a student and teacher comments made during a board meeting last week.
Mt. Eden High School English teacher Henry Bens reportedly has a history of pushing antisemitic beliefs in his classroom for several years, according to a senior student who spoke during the recent board meeting on Feb. 15. Bens allegedly used the Heil Hitler salute in class on several occasions and forced students to read “The Hidden Tyranny” which promotes the Holocaust denial conspiracy, according to the Jewish News of Northern California.
The book, subtitled “the Satanic Power which Promotes and Directs Chaos in Order to Lay Low All Civilization in Preparation for a Well-Outlined Plan for World Dictatorship,” was written by Benjamin Freedman in 2009 and claims to explain “how the Jews manipulated U.S. politicians and Germany during WWII,” resulting in the Holocaust, according to the book’s description. Bens had his 10th grade English class read parts of the book to “remove the blindfold” from students, according to Jewish News of Northern California.
School administrators were reportedly alerted to Bens’ behavior in December 2022, but failed to act on any of the student’s or teacher’s concerns, according to testimony from Bens’ current and former students, as well as his colleagues.
Mt. Eden High School English teacher Heather Eastwood told the board she felt the need to confront the administration because “Holocaust denial and antisemitic hate speech are being taught here” despite the board knowing about the accusations since Dec.13.
“I’m here today to sound the alarm about the appalling silence of our administration at Mt. Eden High School and at the district level,” Eastwood said. “My complaint today is with the school’s admin that have done nothing to remedy this situation. Our department has gotten no support as we struggle to address the antisemitism, they’ve done nothing to address the harm caused to us as people and professionals forced to work alongside someone who attacked our character and professional qualifications for objecting to antisemitism.”
Bens reportedly refuted the claim that he was antisemitic, according to one of his students that spoke with the Jewish News in Northern California, arguing that the word “semitic [in the dictionary] does not mention Jews at all.”
“I’m not teaching antisemitism,” Bens told a student. “When people start lying, remember this — some people are [so] blinded by what they believe or what they think, that they use kids to lie.”
Senior student Ruchita Verma also expressed her frustration at the school’s inaction during the board meeting.
“In just one week multiple students have come forward to share that they are in a learning space in which their teacher performs the Hitler salute,” Verma said.
Another student, David Felix Rogers, noted during the meeting that he had been in Bens’ class two years earlier as a sophomore and he could no longer be silent.
“I ignored what he said then, [but] I am not going to ignore it when I hear sophomores I know today saying the same anti-jewish conspiracies that I heard then,” Rogers said. “When I know this teacher is teaching out of an antisemitic book, and the administration has known for two months … [and] after two months of them knowing they finally said ‘oh you’re not supposed to be teaching about this book.’ What took two months for them to finally say that you probably shouldn’t teach out of a book that was used … to justify genocide.”
Bens’ Facebook promotes the Black Hebrew Israelite ideology that believes black people are the “real Jews” as well as the belief that Jewish people are in control of the media. Bens is also still listed as a member of the faculty on the school’s website and has not been removed from his position, according to testimony at the board meeting.
Mt. Eden High School, Bens and Eastwood did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.