Fair Lawn student's anti-Israel comments on Twitter causing controversy

FAIR LAWN, New Jersey (WABC) -- The holiday break is over for Fair Lawn High School students, but controversy is swirling over Twitter comments made by a student while out of school.

Bethany Koval, who calls herself Benny on Twitter, expressed support for the Palestinians in the Middle East and was not kind to what she calls Zionists in Israel.

Benny is a 16-year-old Israeli Jew and her statements began a buzz on Twitter.

"It's not every day you find an Israeli Jew being pro-Palestine, and one standing firm in their belief. You go, @bendykoval#StandWithBenny" said a Tweet.

But there were some unfriendly Tweets. A real war of words began when a fellow student unfriended Bethany because she did not support Bethany's post.

Some comments were made about exposing that opponent, which brought the school front and center into the controversy.

"They said that she was accused of bullying some girl and it wasn't just what she said over Twitter which is what is being portrayed from her account," said Mohammed Huzien, a student.

"But there is going to come a point where you are going to say something about a race or a religion and it becomes offensive towards other people, and that's where it becomes a bullying case when you are starting to offend people," said Ian Peters, a student.

Bethany's friends say she's now under a lot of pressure.

"I don't think she was aiming towards anyone. I feel like she was expressing her opinion and she kind of took it too far involving the school," said Jaelynn Carrasquillo, a student.

When Bethany returned to school she had to meet with the principal and took to Twitter to talk about it.

"I'm about to be exposed for being anti-Israel. Pray for me," her Tweet read.

Bethany apparently recorded the conversation. The district says they were just doing their job protecting students. The school superintendent said in a statement, "The Fair Lawn school district recognizes and respects individuals First Amendment rights to free speech." But in this case they, "Received a complaint alleging potential harassment, intimidation or bullying ("HIB") by one student against another."

Despite the fact that Bethany Koval has thousands of followers on Twitter, she did not like the attention she was receiving in school, so she went home early on Thursday.
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