A report published late last month regarding anti-Israel curriculum used in Newton, Mass., public high schools is indicative of similar materials in circulation at other school districts in the country.
The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), which is the world’s oldest and largest non-partisan Middle East media-monitoring and research organization, examined educational materials in Newton, Massachusetts where controversy had arisen about bias in the curriculum. They uncovered notable problems in the presentation of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
“The troubling issues in Newton are a window on a national problem,” said Andrea Levin, CAMERA’s Executive Director. “We’ve been hearing about classroom problems for years. And now we’ve seen up close the realities in a prestigious school system.”
CAMERA got involved after citizens had to resort to an FOIA, a Freedom of Information Act, in order to gain access to materials used in the classroom, because school officials had refused to supply the information.
The issue came up in 2011 after a 10th grader complained to her father about a reading assignment that accused Israel of torturing and killing “several hundred Palestinian women.” When the parent complained to the teacher and other school officials about the baseless and incendiary statement, his concerns were ignored.
Steven Stotsky of CAMERA said that since the release of his findings in his report, “Indoctrinating Our Youth: How a U.S. Public School Curriculum Skews the Arab-Israeli Conflict and Islam,” he has received phone calls alerting him to this kind of incendiary curricula being used in Michigan and California.
“We turned over a rock and discovered a significant problem,” said Stotsky after investigating textbooks, articles, timelines, and maps used from at least 2011 to 2015 for World History course sections on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Islam in Newton’s two public high schools, which are among the most prestigious in the country.
The materials included the Arab World Studies Notebook, a textbook the American Jewish Committee has previously condemned as filled with “factually inaccuracies,” “overt bias,” and “unabashed propagandizing”; a timeline of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that almost entirely omitted instances of Palestinian terrorism; and a misrepresentative translation of the Hamas charter.
Stotsky said procedures must be established for vetting all materials brought into the classroom, because at this point, “Teachers are pulling things off the Internet, and a lot of it is fine, but a lot of it not. They can’t just be giving this stuff to students.”
Should teachers be delving into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in their history classes when the conflict is ongoing? Stotsky questioned the practice, noting, “History is complicated enough when you are studying issues that are 100, 200 years old. You further complicate things when you add current events, and the Israeli-Palestinian issue is still politically and ideologically active.”
Stotsky’s was the first comprehensive study of these materials, which were only obtained after a years-long battle with Newton administrators by an ad-hoc group of parents and concerned citizens.
An easy fix to the transparency issue, said Stotsky, would be to just get rid of all curricula from the Internet as a matter of policy.
Inaccurate, misleading, and radical Israel education is an ongoing problem at area schools, Stotsky said, pointing to a May 2017 “Middle East History Day” program at Newton North High School, at which he described a speaker as giving an “anti-Israel rant” to 150 students.
Back in December, we reported that elementary school teachers in Ithaca, New York filmed themselves teaching their third grade students about the warring conflict between Israel and Palestine. Despite the topic being inappropriate for children of that age, the educators were inherently biased, one-sided and downright anti-Semitic during the lesson. They criticized and bashed Israel, claiming the country stole the land and resources from the Palestine people.
In the video, one student announced that he will protest on behalf of the Palestinian people when he grows up. Then another quizzically wonders how will they “stop Israel?”
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