Are American college students turning against Israel? A report on the JNS (Jewish News Service) site says that they are — and “according to some experts,” their high school textbooks are the reason for it.
“According to the Brand Israel Group,” says JNS,
only 54 percent of U.S. college students lean more toward Israel than the Palestinians, down from 73 percent in 2010. The decrease was even sharper among Jewish college students, dropping from 84 percent to 57 percent.
The Brand Israel Group, described by The Times of Israel as a “loose consortium of volunteer marketing and advertising executives,” has been sounding the alarm about the problem.
Dr. Sandra Alfonsi, who runs Curriculum Watch for Hadassah, a Jewish women’s organization, told JNS that:
The problem starts in high school. … There’s no doubt the lack of sympathy for Israel on college campuses today is at least partly the result of several generations of teenagers being educated with textbooks that are slanted against Israel.
Among the most prominent of those textbooks is the Arab World Studies Notebook. It was authored by Audrey Parks Shabbas, a convert to Islam who, according to this site, “often tells her audience that she is both a Muslim and a Mayflower descendant who has lived nearly all her life in the United States.”
“Shabbas,” says JNS, “heads Arab World and Islamic Resources and School Services, a curriculum publisher that seeks to promote a positive image of Arabs and Muslims in U.S. schools.”
And, one might add, a negative image of Israel. Back in 2004, after parents in Anchorage, Alaska, complained about the Arab World Studies Notebook, the American Jewish Committee
found it to be riddled with “overt bias and unabashed propagandizing,” such as depicting Israel as the aggressor in every Arab-Israeli war and praising Muslim conquerors throughout the ages for their “gentle treatment of civilian populations.”
Shabbas has said that the Notebook has gone out to more than 10,000 teachers, and “if each notebook teaches 250 students over 10 years, then you’ve reached 25 million students.”
That’s a lot of students reading that Israel “tortur[es] and murder[s] hundreds of Palestinian women.” In 2011, parents of students at Newton South High School (in the Boston suburb of Newton) complained about a passage from the Notebook that makes that charge. The book was supposedly pulled from the curriculum, but an investigation found it was “still being used in Newton as late as the 2013-2014 school year.”
In 2013, parents in Tennessee’s Williamson County complained about another textbook, The Cultural Landscape: An Invitation to Human Geography, which posed this inquiry to students: “If a Palestinian suicide bomber kills several dozen Israeli teenagers in a Jerusalem restaurant, is that an act of terrorism or wartime retaliation against Israeli government policies and army actions?”
Although the publisher, Pearson Education, removed the passage, a Christian pro-Israel activist named Laurie Cardoza-Moore told JNS that it was “only a partial victory, because The Cultural Landscape contains other biased statements against Israel that were not removed.”
“The problem” said Alfonsi of Curriculum Watch,
is that for every school that removes an anti-Israel text, there are a hundred more that are continuing to use it. … Now we are seeing anti-Israel in bias in texts going all the way down to the 4th grade. I’m concerned that many in the Jewish community still do not recognize how serious this problem is.
If American kids are getting an indoctrination about Israel similar to what is “taught” in the Palestinian Authority — with Israel depicted as a belligerent, consistently evil, deplorable country with no certain justification for its (or its citizens’) existence, and the Palestinians as its innocent victims—does it mean the days of the U.S.-Israeli alliance are numbered?
It may or it may not. One possibility is that, as Israel’s military and technological power and prowess keep increasing, the U.S. (like other countries) will simply want to ally with it out of practicality. Another possibility is that, as brainwashed Americans gradually get older and move into governmental and other positions of power, they’ll learn about tight U.S.-Israeli ties and about the real Israel beyond the hateful stereotypes.
For now, though, what appears to be a systematic effort to turn Americans against Israel from a young age seems to be getting results — to the point that even young American Jews sympathize with people who regard the murder of Israelis as heroic and Israel as a blot that must be removed.