Jewish Student Says School Disciplined Him for Sharing Video of Nazi Salute in Class

A Jewish student says he was reprimanded by his school after he posted a video on social media showing a teacher and other students appearing to perform a Nazi salute.

Video of a teacher at Mountain Brook High School in Mountain Brook, Alabama, appearing to lead students in performing the gesture sparked outrage on social media this week.

The lesson involved the teacher explaining to 11th grade history students that the "Bellamy salute" used to be performed when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, but was abandoned after a similar gesture was made infamous by the Nazis.

The focus on the lesson had been "the meaning of symbols, how they change, and why the Bellamy Salute should never again be recognized due to its association with the actions of the Nazi Party," Mountain Brook Schools said in a statement.

Ephraim Tytell said the teacher had instructed the class to stand and perform the salute while saying the pledge after explaining its history.

"I was just in shock and I was confused," Tytell, also known as Epps, told Southern Jewish Life. "I was kind of sad too, I never thought I would be in a classroom where everyone would stand up and do the Heil Hitler."

Tytell, the only Jewish student in the class, and a couple of other students didn't stand. He later posted a video and photo that another classmate captured on social media.

His parents described the lesson as "incredibly stupid," but said the school's reaction was worse.

They told the magazine that their son was pulled out of class the day after he posted the video and taken to the assistant principal's office, where he was told to apologize to the teacher, Joe Webb.

He refused, but complied with a request to take the video down.

"They proceeded to tell me that I'm making Mountain Brook look bad for uploading the video and sharing it and asked me to apologize to my teacher, which I refused to," Tytell told CBS 42. "The day after he made our class, and our class only, put up our phones and he moved me from sitting in the back of the class to right next to him."

Mountain Brook School racism
A school in Alabama has become embroiled in controversy after a photo emerged that appears to show one of its history teachers instructing students to perform Nazi salutes as they stand facing the American flag. This photo, which appears to show school students doing Nazi salutes, was shared in the What's Happening in Mountain Brook Facebook group. Facebook

Newsweek has contacted Mountain Brook Schools and the Tytell family for additional comment.

The school district told Newsweek in a statement that the picture and video circulating online "are not representative of the lesson, what was being taught, or the context of the instruction that was occurring."

The statement said: "Any representation that this picture or video represents a Mountain Brook teacher attempting to instruct students on how to use the Nazi Party Salute or instruct them to use the salute towards the American flag is unequivocally false. No students were asked to raise their hand for any reason."

The statement also said that the issue had been addressed with the teacher in question and "education has and will continue to be provided."

It said: "Understanding the sensitive nature of this subject, Mountain Brook Schools has addressed the instructional strategy used with the teacher and does not condone the modeling of this salute when a picture or video could accurately convey the same message."