Teacher Defends Student's 'No Jew... Understands The Importance Of Money' Art, Says It's About Trump's Racism

Student artwork on display at a Virginia campus has sparked an anti-Semitism row following complaints from a local rabbi and a Republican lobby group.

The image was headlined "Jewish People" and contained the tagline "no Jew in the world understands the importance of money." It was part of a series of eight drawings under the theme "Racial Irony" and was recognized by the New York-based Scholastic Art Awards.

The student's father told WJLA-TV (ABC7) the intention was to show "stereotypes were silly." The drawing was initially made for a South County High School art assignment.

The 17-year-old creator's teacher, Justyne Fischer, replied to the rabbi's email of concern by stressing the student had been using her "freedom of artistic expression." The rabbi accused the drawing of containing "bigotry and anti-Semitism." The educator strongly disagreed.

Fischer mentioned President Donald Trump in her response multiple times, a point later seized upon by one campaigning group, the Suburban Virginia Republican Coalition.

Offering no apology, the teacher told the rabbi: "It was entered by the 17-year-old student and selected by a panel of judges consisting of professional artists, designers and curators.

"My student is using her freedom of artistic expression to respond to a president who calls Mexicans 'rapists,' African countries 'shit hole countries' and white supremacists 'very fine people.' She chose to create a portfolio of eight works which are anti-stereotype."

The email added: "Her intent is to point out implicit bias that exists and raises it to the surface in the form of racial ironies. She is pointing out how racism and ugliness is now normalized by our current president who intends to divide our nation for his own personal gain.

"Instead of jumping to conclusions and assuming the worst, take a breath. Instead of vilifying me and a 17-year-old student, look at your president who is in 'your own backyard.'"

Local media reported the "Jewish People" art was the only one displayed from the series.

Facing backlash, Fairfax County superintendent Scott Brabrand apologized to the rabbi in an email, WJLA-TV reported. "I understand how, out of context, this piece of art was offensive to you in that it appears to portray Jewish individuals in a negative light," Brabrand wrote.

"We will request that the event organizers consider making changes in how student artwork is displayed during the exhibition and include the artist's statement along with the artwork."

"We will be re-examining our process for submissions to this contest and reinforcing with our art teachers the need for cultural awareness and responsiveness," the superintendent added.

Michael Ginsberg, a Republican lobbyist, demanded an apology and also sent letters to school officials. "Teachers and administrators should not be using students to send personal messages to the president, no matter how they feel about him," he wrote in a statement that was later posted online.