How anti-Israel bias in a Boston suburb’s public schools is a case study of emerging nationwide tren
While we Jews want nothing more than to go about our lives and live like other Americans are allowed to live, the Jew-haters have other plans. With the BDS movement infecting our university campuses, the hatred is now moving down to infect younger students. In Newton Massachusetts, students are being taught a heavily biased view of Middle East history. The bias, as always, is against Israel. This has been going on for a while and the Newton school district has rejected transparency requests from concerned citizens.
Over the past decade, the Boston suburb of Newton has been beset by controversy over how the conflict in the Middle East is being taught in its public schools.
The concern over anti-Israel bias in the school system began in 2011, when a Newton resident complained to school officials regarding the use of a supplemental text called The Arab World Studies Notebook, which contained “false and defamatory” anti-Israel sentiment. While the school board eventually removed the textbook, accusations and further evidence of anti-Israel bias within the school system have continued, reaching a fever pitch during a Newton School Committee hearing in lateNovember 2018.
“Unfortunately, faculty and school officials haven’t been open and accountable to the public, including to parents,” Andrea Levin, executive director of CAMERA, an international fact-checking organization that monitors the media. “At a November public hearing, the school committee voted unanimously against transparency—that is, against allowing the public to know what materials are being used in the classroom.”
“What’s happening in Newton schools is part of a trend in public schools nationwide,” saidMiriam Elman, a professor of political science at Syracuse University
While the debate over how to teach the Middle East conflict has consumed this quaint Boston-area suburb, home to one of the largest Jewish communities in Massachusetts, there has also been concern that the issues plaguing Newton are part of a wider national trend of anti-Israel sentiment seeping into high school classrooms across the country.
Yes, the lessons in hatred are not confined to the Boston area.
Elman pointed to one example in the Los Angeles Unified School District, where a voluntary workshop titled “Learning About Islam and the Arab World” was organized by the LA chapter of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FORUSA), an interfaith organization that supports the BDS movement.
While independent watchdog groups like CAMERA and AMCHA have taken the lead in calling out the school district, the ADL and JCRC have both voiced their concerns.
We need to raise more voices. We also need to check the curricula or our own Michigan school districts. There is a well-funded effort to get anti-Israel texts, movies, and speakers into our public school, and it's been going on for years.
There have been independent citizen challenges. Some of you may recall a time a few years ago when a small group of vocal Jews stopped the International Academy from using an Israel-bashing graphic novel that created a false history of Israeli malfeasance in one of their classes. No Jewish leaders or organizations were involved in that episode. Local leaders should be doing this work, but will they?