Scope of the Problem
Anti-Israel rhetoric on U.S. campuses gets lots of press (as it should). But far less well-known is the fact that many students begin college having been exposed to distorted depictions of Israel in high school or earlier. CAMERA’s in-depth study of one school system that dispensed skewed information about Israel is a window on what is likely to be occurring in schools across the country and exposes how difficult it can be to gain full access to classroom materials.
Newton, MA Case
The controversy in Newton, Massachusetts began when a parent learned his daughter’s reading assignment included a passage falsely claiming “Israeli occupation forces” had “imprisoned, tortured and killed” hundreds of women “active in the Palestinian resistance movement.” Wanting to know whether such false, incendiary statements were to be found in other school materials, concerned citizens ultimately had to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to extract a full account of the teaching materials from administrators.
CAMERA was enlisted to analyze the lesson plans, handouts, videos, maps, articles and timelines related to the Arab-Israeli conflict and Islam secured through the FOIA request. We published the findings in a monograph entitled Indoctrinating our Youth: How A U.S. Public School Curriculum Skews the Arab-Israeli Conflict describes the troubling bias discovered and recounts what transpired in efforts to seek redress in the affluent Boston suburb, home to a sizable Jewish community.
CAMERA has urged the Newton School Committee and other officials to:
Establish transparency for the public so that everyone can know what students are being taught;
Establish rigorous vetting procedures to monitor materials used in the classroom, especially those taken from the Internet without academic oversight;
Remove specified classroom materials that are inaccurate, biased or grossly lacking context regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict and Islam.