Middle East studies in the News
Newly Released Footage Provides Evidence of Anti-Israel Indoctrination at New York State Elementary School Event
by Lea Speyer
Footage showing young children at a New York state elementary school being indoctrinated to hate Israel at an event last year has recently been released following a campaign by the popular blog Legal Insurrection.
The event in question — a "Palestinian human rights" presentation to third-graders at the Beverly J. Martin School in Ithaca, which took place in September 2015 — featured two radical anti-Israel activists. One was Bassem Tamimi — infamous for pushing his own children to provoke Israeli soldiers, and then catching the encounters on camera for propaganda purposes. The other, Ariel Gold, has described his personal goal as "delegitimizing Zionism."
News of the presentation was first brought to light by Legal Insurrection last year, after Gold and another local activist, Mary Anne Grades Flores, "bragged on Facebook how they managed to bring...Tamimi to a third-grade class as part of a presentation on the suffering of Palestinian children at the hands of Israel." When the story broke, the principal of the elementary school at which the event took place denied that it had involved any improper anti-Israel propaganda — and pointed to a video clip as proof.
However, through a New York Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request, Legal Insurrection discovered that the Ithaca City School District had been withholding some key footage of the presentation and — after a long legal battle between the blog and the school district — a court ordered all of it to be released. The event was subsequently condemned by the superintendent of the Ithaca City School district, who in a Letter of Reprimand called the presentation "politically skewed [and] inflammatory."
One video shows Tamimi presenting the infamous "Janna Jihad" interview, which features his young daughter, Ahed, issuing a "message for the world from the Palestinian children."
"We don't like [that] Israel kill us, kill Gaza, kill Palestinian and we don't like they to kill us [sic]," she is heard saying. "They [Israel] can't be terrorists. We don't like them to be terrorists."
Ahed made headlines in 2012 when she appeared in a video confronting an IDF soldier — prompting Turkey to invite her to the country to receive a "courage" award. In 2015, Ahed once again caught the attention of the international community when she was filmed biting and hitting an Israeli soldier who was attempting to subdue her rock-throwing 12-year-old brother.
A second video shows part of the class discussion which followed the formal presentation. In it, Tamimi tells the third-graders that Israel persecutes Palestinians, especially children. He also says, "Our children is our resources, our children is our future, our children who will fight [sic]."
Tamimi then tells the kids they must "defend" the Palestinian people. "You can do a lot for, and be the freedom fighter for the Palestine [sic]," he says.
During the discussion, the children in the class appear to be receptive to Tamimi's message. In the video, one participant is heard saying, "Um. So, I think that Israel is wrong to think that Palestine could be theirs because they already have a lot of land and they shouldn't just take more thinking they own the world."
Another, referring to Israel's security barrier — called the "apartheid wall" by anti-Israel activists — says, "I have a question. Can't they just blow up the wall?"
This is not the first time that Tamimi has been the focus of controversy. As The Algemeiner reported, in October 2015, Tamimi caused an uproar when he accused Israel of stealing the organs of Palestinians. On Facebook, Tamimi shared an image showing the sutured side of a man's body. The caption read, "When Israelis arrest Palestinian CHILDREN, what is the purpose? To STEAL THEIR ORGANS. The same #Zionists doing this control the #media. So don't expect to be told this by the #BBC."
More recently, in March, Tamimi accused the US of revoking his travel visa "to stop [his] efforts against the Israeli occupation." As an investigation later revealed, Tamimi's visa was permanently revoked after US immigration officials discovered he had lied on his application about never having been arrested.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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