Abbott Elementary Controversy & Zionist Cast Accusations Explained

By Sam Hargrave Posted:
Abbott Elementary cast

Several Abbott Elementary cast members have become involved in a controversy involving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and arguably inappropriate comments regarding one of their sons' genitalia. 

Abbott Elementary's Cast Controversy Explained

Ava Coleman actress Janelle James was among those involved in controversy as she has been accused of sexualizing her son in a 2021 Netflix comedy special, The Standups, a clip of which has recently resurfaced on social media.

The comedian, who refuses to disclose her own age publicly - confirmed to Variety in early 2023 that she has one son who is 20 years old and another whose age she declined to share (Unverified reports online point to James herself being 44).

In the special - via Newsweek - she commented on how her "youngest son got a d*** now," expressing her apparent shock over his development:

"My youngest son got a d*** now. I didn't know that. I didn't know he had a d***. They say you blink and you miss it. It's true. I didn't know he had a d***. I was sitting on the edge of my bed and he ran by from the bathroom to.. I guess he forgot his towel or whatever, and I was like, 'What the f*** was that?'"

She added how he "used to have a 'pee-pee'" which she would "play rhythm guitar on" during his childhood, calling it the "best part of having a baby boy:"

"It blew my mind. I said, 'That's a d***. What?' That d*** needs to get a job. Can't be walking around with all that d*** and no income. That's disrespectful. He used to have a 'pee-pee.' You know? The last time I saw that was a 'pee-pee.' You change the diaper, you play rhythm guitar on the pee-pee. No other parents in here? That's the best part of having a baby boy."

Furthermore, Gregory Eddie's Tyler James Williams and Melissa Schemmenti's Lisa Ann Walter have become involved in a separate controversy surrounding their public views toward the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict.

In October, Williams was listed among a group of Hollywood talent who signed an open letter to U.S. President Joe Biden voicing apparent support for Israel and calling for the release of over 200 hostages held by Hamas. A snippet of the letter toward which the Abbott Elementary actor penned his name can be seen below:

"Thank you for your unshakable moral conviction, leadership, and support for the Jewish people, who have been terrorized by Hamas since the group’s founding over 35 years ago, and for the Palestinians, who have also been terrorized, oppressed, and victimized by Hamas for the last 17 years that the group has been governing Gaza.

We all want the same thing: Freedom for Israelis and Palestinians to live side by side in peace. Freedom from the brutal violence spread by Hamas. And most urgently, in this moment, freedom for the hostages." 

In a post on X (formerly Twitter) in October, Walter shared her support for a "two-state solution" and the Israeli side of the conflict. These statements have led some across X to refer to the Abbott Elementary star as a Zionist.

"My whole family believes in a two-state solution. We don’t like Netanyahu. Including my oldest kids who are Jewish. To reduce this to simplistic 'us against them' is not only false, it furthers fighting. 

Everyone deserves a homeland.

Killing is wrong.

Feel free to unfollow."

The ideology of Zionism refers to the support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Israel. This belief has become a controversial matter as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues, with some expressing their view that this has led to the loss of land and rights for Palestinian communities.

Despite the controversial comments from these Abbott Elementary cast members over the years, there has been no indication ABC has any intention to take action against them or to remove them from the hit comedy. 


The first two seasons of Abbott Elementary are streaming now on Max and Hulu.

- About The Author: Sam Hargrave
Sam Hargrave is the Associate Editor at The Direct. He joined the team as a gaming writer in 2020 before later expanding into writing for all areas of The Direct and taking on further responsibilities such as editorial tasks and image creation.