Last year, the Wellesley Middle School was caught in a nasty controversy when my organization, Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT), released a shocking video of a student trip to the Roxbury megamosque.
Viewers could see mosque staffers teach the students unadulterated propaganda – among other things, that Muslim women got the vote before women in the West. They also saw Wellesley boys prostrating themselves to Allah alongside Muslim men. The controversy was covered extensively on Boston TV and radio, and the video was seen by almost 500,000 people on YouTube.
As a result, Wellesley schools no longer visit that mosque. Good. But we also asked Wellesley school administrators to go back to the students and correct the false information they were taught, and then to explain what propaganda is.
They refused, and as far as we know, a class full of Wellesley students still believe these falsehoods and don't know they were lied to. Why are school administrators afraid to tell the truth?
Now, the Newton public school system is enmeshed in a similar controversy about deceptive lessons concerning Muslim women. This time there is an anti-Semitic theme. As with Wellesley, the Newton school administrators are refusing to tell the children they were lied to.
It began when a Newton parent learned that his daughter was being taught – in a school handout — that Israelis incarcerate, torture and kill Palestinian women.
The material came from "The Arab World Studies Notebook," which has been condemned by serious educators as blatant propaganda. How did this get into the curriculum?
Margo Einstein, Newton's pro- Jewish "community organizer," sparked a growing and organized effort to challenge the Newton schools. She has gathered a team of parents and researchers to review the textbooks and circular materials that are being used to teach about Arabs, Jews, Muslims and Christians in our schools.
As a taxpaying Newton resident, I was allowed to address the School Committee last week. A summary of my remarks (below) sketches out the problem and should give enough examples to make us all concerned:
Teachers in the Newton schools gave students a handout that defamed Israel's Jews as monsters and savages who imprison, torture and kill Palestinian women. This is not only untrue, the opposite is true, that is, if you want to give students truly horrific examples of violence, murder and intolerance in the Middle East, you have all you can possibly want in Palestinian, Arab and Muslim behavior and history. And not just history – just review the violence of the Arab Spring, the daily slaughter of civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
But as the Newton schools are guided by what is politically correct, our students cannot learn about any examples of non-Western misconduct. (You are programming our students not to judge the "Other" – only people like us.)
For example, Arabs today have black slaves in Sudan and Mauritania.
But you cannot teach that truth. It does not fit the politically correct narrative, that evil in the world comes from white Europeans – and everyone else is a victim. If you point out the obvious, you are a bigot, blaming the victim.
Newton students come from a culture that would not normally abandon blacks who are enslaved today. Nor would they abandon women or gays who are oppressed, but your politically correct education ensures that our children will not learn about the plights of these people in the Islamic realm, or anywhere outside the West for that matter – or that they will be afraid to speak about it. You will have taught them that.
But you (Newton schools) did give students 'A Muslim Primer,' which touts as the best guide to understanding Islam and human rights, by the Egyptian scholar Sayyid Qutb. But it turns out that Sayyid Qutb is the intellectual father of the Muslim Brotherhood. His books are filled with calls for Jihad against Christian, Jewish and secular Muslim societies. The book you gave them promotes the man who inspired Osama bin Laden.
Women in the Muslim world are third-class citizens. But nobody will explain this in Newton to our students. It's taboo.
Instead, Newton North students have been given handouts describing the Muslim world as, I kid you not, 'a world where womanhood reigns supreme,' where women are freer than Western women, who apparently 'have less control over their destiny.'
Gays are hanged in public squares in Iran, and Christians are besieged by mobs in Cairo, driven from Iraq and terrified in Damascus. But these essential facts are not politically correct and therefore taboo in Newton schools.
Newton students have a text called 'World History/Human Legacy,' which teaches that Mohammed shared his preaching with the Jews of Yathrib.
But the book doesn't say that when the Jews rejected Mohammed, he beheaded the men in front of their families and took the terrified Jewish children and women as slaves.
In Newton, students read from a book called 'Islam: the Straight Path,' which calls the Torah and the Gospels degenerate and perverted.
You eliminated the 'Arab World Studies Notebook,' after we protested.
But if this poison, and so many others things we could point out to you, have penetrated your filters, we cannot be asked to trust you. We want to see what you are teaching our children. Yet, counter to your own rules, you have refused.
You have not, as far as we know, corrected the defamation of the Jews that you brought into the classroom. So Newton students may continue to believe that the Israelis torture and murder Palestinian women.
You did not investigate how this happened so that you can search out and eliminate other poisonous texts. You have not warned other school boards that this happened to you. You should have been shocked and apologetic. Instead, you want us to go away.
So: We want to know what you are teaching our children. Making us jump through hoops, treating us like this, is indecent.
I believe that the School Committee is composed of intelligent, well-meaning individuals. I also believe they are unaware of the cultural and political bias that permeates much of education today.
They may be guided by a desire to increase American students' understanding of global issues but their efforts have been hijacked to promote false narratives and a lethal agenda. I urge the School Committee to make all syllabus and curricula openly available to the parents and taxpayers of Newton. In the age of the Internet, there is no excuse to hide what is being taught to the next generation.
See ClarionProject.org's Parents Win Fight Against Biased, Saudi-Funded Textbook
Charles Jacobs is a the co-founder of the American Anti-Slavery Group, the David Project and Americans for Peace and Tolerance.
This article appeared originally in The Jewish Advocate.