Teaching High School Students to Demonize Israel

We know that it has become standard practice to demonize Israel on university campuses throughout the world. But now, the hatred is also being taught in high school classes. This is a report on the anti-Israel propaganda being taught to high school students in the Newton Massachusetts school district and the battle being fought against the misinformation and indoctrination.

As it turned out, the Arab World Studies Notebook received funding from the government of Saudi Arabia, and, as Einstein soon found out, the Newton history teachers were receiving training workshops from prominent anti-Israel critics, including Paul Beran—then the director of the Outreach Center at Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, which also receives generous Saudi support—a leader of the BDS campaign against the Jewish state. Eighty Newton public school history teachers, from the elementary schools on up, took Beran’s workshop on teaching the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The 10th grade students, focusing on modern history and including a unit on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, were being introduced to the Hamas charter redacted to exclude the most inflammatory anti-Semitic clauses; materials that identified Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel and Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine; a map of Jerusalem that referred to the Old City’s Jewish Quarter as a settlement; and a discussion of the one-state and two-state solutions, both containing nothing but voices critical of Israel. There was no mention of Palestinian wrongdoing, they noted, nor any attempt to present Israel as anything but a malevolent occupier of Palestinian land.

Einstein and her fellow activists took these issues to the school board, which, almost immediately, went on the defensive. Matt Hills, the Newton School Committee vice chair, told The Jewish Advocate that Einstein represented only “a tiny, tiny number of people” whose concerns focused on “some unidentified bias.” The real issue, he concluded, was that “academic freedom is at stake, and by the way there’s not the slightest notion that there’s a problem with the curriculum.”

Wondering what other objectionable materials the curriculum might contain, the group of citizens asked the Newton School Committee to make it public, arguing that as residents of the town and taxpayers they had a right to know what was being taught to their children. The school committee refused.

So, we have all of the elements in play, Saudi money, workshops by anti-Israel BDS activists, and the claim of "academic freedom," which in cases like this means - the freedom to teach Israel hatred instead of history. That in itself should be the worst of the situation, but it isn't.

“I showed the ADL, the JCRC, and the AJC much of the materials we had got our hands on,” he said. “I tried to talk to them. From the start, they were adamant in not wanting to take this on.” The officials, Jacobs added, said that confronting the school system might appear as if the Jewish community was trying to stifle academic freedom; besides, they argued, the problem wasn’t as bad as Jacobs made it out to be.

Hmmm, Jewish organizations avoiding supporting Jews and Israel. It isn't just our local organizations. The rot seems to be more widespread than we knew. But wait! There's more!

Five days later, every major Jewish organization in Boston joined in, taking issue not with the school system’s behavior but with Jacobs and his colleagues.

“Based on a careful review of the materials at issue by ADL and JCRC,” read a letter dated Nov. 6, 2013, “there is substantial reason to believe that the allegations made in the ad are without merit. The ad misinterprets certain elements of the materials and lacks reasonable context. The Newton School Committee and its leadership have been responsive, and have addressed the questions posed to them in a thoughtful, constructive way. In contrast, the ad’s sponsor declined our invitation to explain the allegations and answer questions about them, a decision that we regret. We trust that this is reassuring to members of our community and that claims made against members of the Newton School Committee can now be put to rest.”

The letter surprised Jacobs, who claims that he had previously offered the ADL and the JCRC to both review his sources and speak to relevant students and parents concerned about this curriculum. Contacted this week for comment, a JCRC spokesperson replied: “The 2013 letter that JCRC signed together with other organizations speaks for itself, including the statement that there was a ‘careful review of the materials at issue.’” Todd Gutnick, the ADL’s senior director of communications, replied that “Our letter of November 2013 speaks for itself.”

Jacobs was also suspicious of the assertion that the ADL and the JCRC had conducted anything resembling a careful review, seeing as they did not reach out independently to any of the people originally involved in bringing this subject to light. A Newton resident had filed a FOIA request and, in December, received confirmation that no one associated with either organization—or, for that matter, with any other major Jewish organization in Boston—had ever even asked to see the curriculum.

Read the whole article. Anti-Israel lessons are being forced into high school curricula on other places. Some of you may recall many years ago when our local International Academy wanted to use an anti-Israel graphic novel to teach about Israel, it was individual Jews working together without the help of our "leaders," who convinced the school's administration that the book should not be used.

And currently our local JCRC/AJC is supporting Rashida Tlaib instead of the local Jewish community.

Boston activists, including Charles Jacobs and Margot Einstein are still battling the school district, but are now doing it in court. They've been at it for a while. This is a long article, but it's worth reading, both as a picture of what a school district will do to cover up their educational malfeasance (in order to keep the Saudi money flowing?) and for what it tells us regarding the worth of Jewish organizations. I hate to give away the ending, but the last line in the article reads:

The case is currently being heard in court. None of Boston’s storied historical Jewish organizations has yet weighed in.