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American News Jul 19, 2021 11:05 AM EST

Washington state removes anti-semitic material curriculum on Native Americans, but fails to address textbooks

Children as young as 10 were being taught to equate the experience of Native Americans with the Palestinians' "fight to be free from Israeli dominance."

Washington state removes anti-semitic material curriculum on Native Americans, but fails to address textbooks
Ari Hoffman Seattle, WA

The Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has removed what it called "a clear example of implicit bias" against Israel from its mandatory K-12 curriculum on Native American studies.

Children as young as 10 were being taught to equate the experience of Native Americans with the Palestinians' "fight to be free from Israeli dominance."

The material was removed after the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA), Jewish groups and members of Native American tribes contacted OSPI about the inaccuracies and false narratives in the curriculum.

According to CAMERA, the now-deleted course material stated that "Israeli oppression" of the Palestinians was a helpful "contemporary connection" for understanding the history of Native Americans. The lesson plan claimed that "Israeli dominance," caused Palestinians to lose their "sacred homelands."

"Why do the Palestinians want to be free from Israeli dominance? Have their sacred homelands returned to them?" The assignment asked, implying to impressionable children that the Jewish state of Israel is a colonial aggressor.

One of the assignments instructed students to "create a Timeline of Events that lead up to either the Indian or American Fight for Independence. (If you plan to make contemporary connections, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would work. Why do the Palestinians want to be free from Israeli dominance? Have their sacred homelands returned to them?)"

Advocates for the Palestinian Authority and the terrorist organization Hamas regularly appropriate the culture of the Native American experience to convince American college students that Jews are not indigenous to Israel.

Steven Stotsky, who investigates bias in K-12 schools for the CAMERA International Student Leadership Institute, told the Jewish News Syndicate,  "Adding a politically charged viewpoint on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was, among other things, a confusing distraction, taking away important time for Native American [education]. In sum, at least three groups were wronged by the politicized assignment—students, Jews and Native Americans."

Following the push back the material was removed by OSPI. The superintendent's office said, "We share your concerns, and we have removed that example from the lesson plan posted online."

"This is a clear example of implicit bias that we must work together to root out. There are very few areas within state law where OSPI is charged with creating or overseeing curricula, and in each of those areas, ensuring the materials are culturally responsive and unbiased is among our top priorities."

Additionally, OSPI stated, "the curriculum will soon be placed on a regular review cycle, where members of the Washington State Native Education Advisory Committee will review the curriculum at regular intervals to ensure the lessons are still relevant and culturally responsive and make changes as necessary."

The mandatory curriculum was developed between 2007 and 2010 by "OSPI staff, members of Washington State’s federally recognized tribes, Washington State K–12 teachers, state and tribal librarians, tribal attorneys, and staff from the Washington State Attorney General’s Office," according to the OSPI.

Though this material was removed, other material remains. World History; Patterns of Interaction published by educational printing-house, Holt McDougal, has been used by many Seattle Public Schools and other districts across the state as well other states across the country.

The textbook stated, "The land called Palestine now consists of Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip." This is misleading because the Palestine mandate included all of what is now Jordan, Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

According to an interview with Bob Kaufman in 2014, a retired educator in the state, "Propaganda sheets put out by anti-Israel activists assert that the Jews were given 78 percent of Palestine.  The truth is the Arabs were given the 78 percent of Palestine that is now the state of Jordan. Add that to the land they were offered by the UN on the west side of the Jordan River, and the actual amount of Palestine in Jewish hands after the war of 1948 was no more than 17.5 percent of the original Palestine mandate."

"The text gives students the false impression that Jews took the vast majority of lands in the Palestine Mandate, nothing could be further from the truth."

On page 1020 the text stated, "These people have walked off with our home and homeland, with our movable and immovable property, with our land, our farms, our shops, our public buildings, our paved roads, our cars, our theaters, our clubs, our parks, our furniture, our tricycles.  They hounded us out of ancestral patrimony [land] and shoved us in refugee camps . . ."

"It is shocking how much of that paragraph is not true," said Kaufman. "No Palestinian Arabs were shoved into refugee camps by Israel, they can thank their Arab brothers for that." Palestinians who did not leave Israel were given full citizenship rights, while those who fled to neighboring Arab countries remained in refugee camps to this day. The text added, "Now they [The Jews] are astride the whole of historic Palestine, jubilant at the new role as latter day colonial overlords."

"The Israelis have never possessed 'the whole of historic Palestine,' said Kaufman. "In fact, the bulk of the British Palestine Mandate is under Arab Jordanian rule. These are historic facts, not opinions, bad information like this should not be dished out to impressionable young minds."

Kaufman added "Israel is not a colony, the Jews were not dispatched to Israel on behalf of a mother country. Israel was established not with the assistance of but rather in defiance of the colonial powers."

The textbook goes on to inform students that "To Palestinians (both Muslim and Christian), the land has belonged to them since the Jews were driven out around AD 135. To Arabs, the land has belonged to them since their conquest of the area in the 7th Century."

Kaufman explained that "Today’s Palestinians are 100 percent Arab, most of whom migrated to Palestine in the 19th and 20th centuries, to assert that there was any Palestinian presence between 135 AD and the Arab invasion of 634 is absurd. To suggest that there was no Jewish presence after 135 AD is false."

"The text gives the impression that Jews abrogated their claim to the land through their forced absence. In fact, at no time in the last 2000 years has there been an absence of Jews from the land. Jews have continued to regard that land as their homeland."

Kaufman added that "The bias does not stop with the text. The assignments given students when it comes to Israel are shockingly rife with sins of commission and omission."

In one assignment students were asked how "Muslims and Christians already living” in Palestine might have reacted to the Balfour declaration, a 1917 British diplomatic statement of support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine?"

"The students were never informed that all 53 member states of the League of Nations passed a mandate for a Jewish national home in Palestine. This legal Jewish claim to the land is critical and yet is never mentioned in the textbook; I suspect this omission was deliberate," said Kaufman. "Balfour established nothing and it is easy to point that out. You can’t say that about the League mandate, so the authors simply leave it out."

OSPI said they were not available to be interviewed to discuss the use of the texts in Washington state schools.

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