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School board member resigns amid firestorm over calling Israeli military a 'terrorist organization'

A Pennsylvania school board member has resigned and apologized after she referred to Israel's military as a "terrorist organization" in a social media post.

A Pennsylvania school board member has resigned after she referred to Israel's military as a "terrorist organization" and faced backlash from those within the community.

Dr. Jamina Clay, who was elected in 2021 to the Colonial Board of School Directors, announced her resignation in a post to Facebook – the same social media platform she used to make controversial remarks about the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

"As you are all aware of- I recently made a post on my facebook page where I intended to draw attention to the conflict in the middle east. Upon reflection and after having conversation with loved ones and friends, I understand that my choice of words may have caused harm to many, and the impact did not match my intent. The post has been removed," Clay wrote in a post to Facebook Thursday. "Because of the pain that my post has caused, I have resigned from my seat on the Colonial School Board effective immediately."

"I understand that the district needs to heal from the painful words that I chose, and it is best to do that in my absence," she added to the post announcing her resignation. "The board is prepared to move forward and I hope that with me no longer occupying the seat, the community is able to do so as well."

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Despite her resignation from the school board, Clay said she will "continue serving as the Assistant Superintendent for the School District of Philadelphia overseeing ten schools."

"Again I apologize for the post that I made and I hope to learn from this situation. I will continue to pray for peace in the Middle East," she said.

Clay's apology came after she referred to the IDF as a "terrorist organization" and claimed it's working to eliminate Palestinians in a now-deleted post to the platform.

"The terrorist organization known to many as the IDF is currently targeting a hospital," Clay wrote in the original post last week.

"The world watches while the Palestinian people are eliminated," she added to the post at the time.

Clay's remarks drew backlash from several Jewish leaders and residents in the community, many of whom showed up to a Thursday evening Colonial School District board meeting to voice their concerns.

"I just wish [Clay] hadn't been so eager to jump to conclusions and make a post like that for everyone to see," one Jewish resident and parent in the community, who wished to remain anonymous, told Fox News Digital. "Her comments are the kind that easily stir frustration, and it gives me and my children a sense of worry as more and more anti-Israel sentiment is shared in different cities and states in the country."

"The hateful and antisemitic post yesterday from a member of the Colonial School Board was shocking and incredibly hurtful to Jewish members of this community. Her statement was intellectually dishonest, hateful and frankly un-American," said Spencer Yablon, of Whitemarsh Township, according to Philadelphia's ABC 6. "Your colleague's comments bring to the surface what Jews have always felt: That antisemitism is all around us."

Mark Wolfheimer, the president of Congregation Or Ami in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania, accepted Clay's apology and said, "We understand that everyone [has] different opinions. What we are really looking forward to doing is meeting with Dr. Clay to have a conversation."

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"The main thing that sticks out as harmful, not just hurtful but harmful, was calling the Israel Defense Force a terrorist organization," Rabbi Glenn Ettman of Congregation Or Ami told NBC10. "Words do matter. Words have influence and certainly words that come from people who are elected officials hold even more weight because of the position in which they hold."

Clay's resignation was effective immediately. However, the school board will still take an acceptance vote, which is likely to take place sometime next month since it was not posted on the publicly posted agenda for Thursday night's meeting.

In a statement to CBS News Philadelphia, Beth Patruno, president of the Colonial School District, said, "We acknowledge that members of our community are hurting as a result of Dr. Clay's comments. This is not acceptable in our school district where we pride ourselves on creating a culture of belonging."

Regarding Clay's resignation, the Colonial School District, in a statement shared with Fox News Digital, noted it had received the resignation letter and that the "post was offensive to many and resulted in numerous emails calling for her resignation or censure, as well as a call for many to attend tonight's School Board meeting to voice their concern."

"Dr. Clay submitted her resignation letter this morning, stating that she did not wish to distract from the work of the School Board or the District. Following the receipt of her resignation letter, we sent a message to the community to notify them of this development and to reiterate our commitment to creating a safe, inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff," the school district said.

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"Colonial School District prides itself on cultivating a sense of belonging. All our schools work hard each year to maintain their designations as No Place for Hate Schools as part of our partnership with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and take part in many other initiatives and programs meant to encourage equity, inclusion, and belonging. We condemn all forms of hatred and violence and remind all that we have counseling services available for anyone who may be struggling," the school district added.

Colonial School District Superintendent Michael L. Christian also addressed the original Facebook post and resignation in a Thursday letter to the community.

"We want to inform the Colonial School District community that one of our School Board members, Dr. Jamina Clay, has resigned after making a controversial social media post about the conflict in the Middle East. Dr. Clay submitted her resignation letter this morning stating that she was doing so because she does not wish to distract from the work of the School Board or the District," Christian wrote. "Dr. Clay’s post was offensive to many and, as a School Board member, this is unacceptable in a district that prides itself on cultivating a sense of belonging."

Members of the Colonial School Board, according to the school district's website, are elected at large to serve the citizens of Conshohocken Borough and Plymouth and Whitemarsh Townships.

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