Middle East studies in the News
Anti-Israel Propaganda Reaches Public Schools
While anti-Israel propaganda is common on college and university campuses, there appears to be a filtering down to the public education system.
We already have seen attempts to proselytize students into becoming "freedom fighters for Palestine" at an Ithaca, NY, third grade class. Now the Newton (MA) Public Schools are embroiled in controversy over anti-Israel bias in the public high schools.
Last week, Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) released a video about the years-long controversy over Newton South High School's curriculum for teaching about the Middle-East. The issue first arose in 2011:
Pagliuso said World History teacher Jessica Engel distributed a chapter on women from the Arab World Notebook to students earlier this week.
"It's pure propaganda and pure defamation that Israeli occupation forces and citizen soldiers are imprisoning, torturing and murdering Arab women," he said.
The section, of the third of five pages, reads as follows: "Over the past four decades, women have been active in the Palestinian resistance movement. Several hundred have been imprisoned, tortured, and killed by Israeli occupation forces since the latest uprising, "Intifada," in the Israeli occupied territories."
In June, 2014, Newton Schools administrators claimed the offending textbook had been pulled during the 2011-12 academic year, but APT found evidence that it was still in use in some capacity in the 2012-13 year. The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and Anti-Defamation League (ADL) rejected APT's accusations, creating a lasting rift with APT and APT Founder and President Dr. Charles Jacobs.*
Later in 2014, the non-profit Verity Educate released a report on the broader issue of "Middle East Curricula in Newton Public Schools" and confirmed that those materials were still being used. In addition, Verity Educate's Executive Summary notes:
Verity Educate's primary finding is:
There has been a demonstrated lack of subject matter expertise in the creation and oversight of these Middle East curricula, and the vast majority of materials used do not originate from authoritative sources or are so altered as to have lost their authority.
Additional findings include:
- A high frequency of inaccurate and false information. Some materials present multiple, easily-refuted inaccuracies per page.
- Academic dishonesty in multiple pieces of material. This ranges from instances of plagiarism (omitting citations or attribution when copying material), to changing copied material without any indications, to deceptively editing material to alter its meaning.
- Material taken directly from a hate-filled, religious, proselytizing website. This website also prophesies about an Armageddon when all Jews will be murdered and the rest of the world will convert to Sunni Islam.
- Assignments that prejudice students in favor of the radical position of a one-state scenario in Israel/the West Bank/Gaza.
- A neo-Orientalist mistreatment of various Arab perspectives, particularly the infantilization of Arab peoples and countries in the twentieth century and elevation of the perspectives of the PLO and Hamas at the expense of the perspectives of Palestinian individuals.
- A regular presentation of bias in place of facts. There is no single, overarching bias. However, the curricula present repeated instances of bias against Israel, bias against the U.S. and its actions in the Middle East, and bias that sanitizes the ideology and actions of terrorists.
The Newton Public schools refused to comment on Verity Educate's report:
Dr. Ellen R. Wald, executive director of Verity Educate, said her organization approached Newton Public Schools three times about discussing the report before its release, but never received a response. Newton Superintendent of Schools David Fleishman, and School Committee Chair Matt Hills, as well as Newton Mayor Setti Warren, all did not respond to JNS.org requests for comment on the report.
"It actually was an anomaly," Wald told JNS.org regarding the Newton school district's non-response to the report. "In other instances, we've not only received responses [from school districts], but have found that school districts were very interested in what we had to say and have responded not just cordially, but in many instances positively."
Last week APT released a video that follows up on those themes, hitting the City for implicitly defending a curriculum that whitewashes Palestinian anti-Semitism and teaches Muslim Brotherhood ideology.
According to a press release from APT, the video shows:
- Newton's high schools have used Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) maps that falsify the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Newton students were not told that the maps were created by the PLO's propaganda unit.
- Newton's schools presented students with a falsified version of the Hamas Charter. In Newton's doctored version the word "Jews" – as a target of hatred — is replaced with the word "Zionists."
- In one lesson, Newton students are asked to consider the Jewish state's right to exist. (The legitimacy of no other nation-state's existence is questioned.) The lesson included "expert" opinions, which are drawn overwhelmingly from anti-Israel academics and anti-Semitic activists.
- A book used in Newton high schools has a recommended reading list that includes the extremist writings by Muslim Brotherhood leaders including Sayyid Qutb, and Yusuf Qaradawi, whose sermons call for the murder of Jews and homosexuals.
- Newton schools officials are shown to continuously refuse to make school curricula and teaching materials available to the Newton residents.
Here is the video:
We may be witnessing a broadening of the anti-Israel propaganda effort. What once was common only on college and university campuses now appears to be working its way into public high schools and elementary schools. This should be a cause for concern among supporters of Israel.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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