When Schools Turn Anti-Israel

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2018/10/07/when-schools-turn-anti-israel/

Recently the Israel-American Council, a national network of Israelis living in America, took the extraordinary step of circulating a petition to demand that the Newton School Department take action on the “anti-Israel bias in the Newton Schools” which is “causing a serious rift between students and is provoking hostility towards Jews, who are becoming reluctant to identify themselves as supporters of Israel.”

The ongoing anti-Israel controversy in the Newton Public Schools hit a low point last spring when Newton North High School showed a film called Ismail that depicted Israeli (read, Jewish) soldiers behaving like Nazis to Arab civilians. The Newton North principal subjected the entire student body, including a large number of Jewish students, to this anti-Semitic rant.

What would usually follow in any normal school district is that the School Committee would lecture the superintendent of schools, who would then reprimand the principal, who in turn would apologize to the community and suspend or reassign his staff member(s) that came up with the idea.

Yet the exact opposite happened in Newton. The School Committee did nothing, the superintendent defended the principal, who then lauded the staff responsible for the incident. Then all of them ran and hid when the national media came calling.

For the past several years there has been a concerted effort by far-left Newton teachers and administrators to delegitimize Israel in the classroom. Under the sophomoric guise of “presenting both sides” they’ve demonized the Jewish State to their students in a manner that would have been unheard of a generation ago.

The Newton School Department started their anti-Israel trend several years ago by saturating their schools with the Arab World Notebook curricula, a project funded by the Saudis, which presents Israel as a racist, xenophobic, colonialist, apartheid state devoid of historical legitimacy. The message to the students was simple — Israel is bad, Islam is good.

The Newton School Department and School Committee then repeatedly stonewalled concerned parents and pro-Israel community activists until the liberal Anti-Defamation League and Jewish Community Relations Council got involved, after which the Arab World Notebook curricula was shelved.

Down but not out, Newton North teachers regrouped, pushed back, and came up with the aforementioned film Ismail, produced by Ali Abunimah, founder of the notorious anti-Israel Electronic Intifada, as the highlight of the school’s Middle East Day.

This in a school system with one of the highest percentages of Jewish students in the country.

Nevertheless, despite extensive negative press, community protests, and even lawsuits, School Department radicals continue on their zealous mission to purge the schools of anything remotely favorable towards Israel. Yet they’re presumably intelligent enough to know that by relentlessly attacking the Jewish State it raises the presumption of anti-Semitism. Why obsessively rant to their students about the only Jewish country in the world, distort its history, compare its soldiers to Nazis, and question its very legitimacy?

What is astonishing, if not bizarre, is that both the superintendent of schools and the majority of the School Committee are Jewish. Thus, it’s logical to assume they’d put a stop to this. Yet the strange reality is they’ve been complicit in facilitating this purging of Israel in the classroom.

That any Jewish school officials would allow their schools to lapse into anti-Israel activity that borders on anti-Semitism is beyond appalling. What goes on in the minds of such people would be fodder for the psychiatrist, let alone the columnist. But in general they fall into two categories.

The first are marginal Jews, or Jews in name only. They might drag themselves to synagogue once a year on Yom Kippur, but being Jewish is of minor importance to them. It’s not that they’re necessarily anti-Israel, they just don’t care either way. Which is why when left-wing Newton teachers promote an anti-Israel curriculum, they let it happen, since they’re too apathetic to do otherwise.

The second group are anti-Jewish Jews, or self-hating Jews. They loathe being Jewish and take it out on Israel. Think Noam Chomsky. As dogmatic socialists they love Bernie Sanders, read Howard Zinn, admire radical leftists, and despise Israel. So any teacher in the Newton schools pushing an anti-Israel agenda is given their blessing and support.

A prominent Newton female rabbi retorted that the behavior of these Jewish school officials is “baffling.” Yet it’s more than that. A lot more. It’s sad. It’s painful. It’s pathetic.
Because there is something monumentally inappropriate for a Jewish superintendent and School Committee, overseeing a school system with a large Jewish student body, to enable such a radical anti-Israel element to permeate their schools, just seventy years after the Holocaust.

Tom Mountain is vice chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Jewish Committee.