Middle East studies in the News
'Anti-Israel' Political Cartoon in Regents Exam Sparks Outrage
by Kirstan Conley and Caroll Alvarado
A political cartoon riffing on the Mideast conflict appeared last week on a global-studies Regents exam — sparking cries of "anti-Israel propaganda" from some lawmakers, teachers and students.
The cartoon depicts three fat, armed Israeli soldiers using an overturned table as a shield, with one saying, "I knew this peace table would come in handy someday."
It was used in the test administered on Jan. 24, and asked students, "What is the main idea of this cartoon?"
Assemblyman Dov Hikind says the cartoon's inclusion by the Board of Regents is a jab at Israel, because it portrays the soldiers — one with a Star of David on his back — as aggressive and oafish.
"I consider this anti-Israel propaganda. It is so demeaning," the Brooklyn pol told The Post.
"There's nothing to learn from this. It's only to undermine Israel, and I can tell you that the people who came to me — a teacher who saw this and was so furious, so upset that this was on the Regents. Why would you use this? What is the purpose of this? It makes me very angry that people responsible made this decision."
Some students pushed back on test day, including a Forest Hills HS 10th-grader who told a teacher he felt targeted, according to a classmate.
"The entire class said it was offensive, but the teachers told us it was a random question [the exam creators] found online and put it in the test," said the student who declined to give his name. "A Jewish kid then told the teacher he felt insulted. He said he felt like they were putting the blame on his religion."
State Education Department spokesman Jonathan Burman defended the question, saying it "measures the students' ability to analyze a political cartoon, understand the cartoonist's point of view and apply that information to the questions being asked."
"Political cartoons contained on Regents exams are sometimes very pointed, but they are never intended to represent the point of view of the Board of Regents or the Education Department on a given issue," Burman said.
Regents questions are created by teachers and tested on a sample of students before they are used, a state education source said.
The cartoonist, Chris Britt, who originally produced the drawing for an Illinois newspaper, did not think the Mideast cartoon was biased or inappropriate for a test.
"To me it was just showing how frustrating the peace process was," he said. "It's not trying to indoctrinate someone. It's, 'Can you look at this and tell us what's going on in the creator's mind?' "
In 2006, educators called the global-studies Regents test "racist" because it had students read a passage by a 20th-century British colonial administrator and asked them to "state two ways British imperialism would benefit Africans."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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