“Reframing Israel,” a new K-12 Hebrew school curriculum that was introduced at the beginning of the current school year, is assailed as “the next phase in anti-Israel academic indoctrination,” in an article titled “Framing Israel: The Distortions of the New Boycott-Driven School Curriculum” in The Tower Magazine (tinyurl.com/JNreframing). The curriculum’s proponents say it’s being used in 10 Hebrew schools. Article authors Max Samarov and Amanda Botfeld, who are researchers at StandWithUs, write, “The evidence strongly suggests that ‘Reframing Israel’ is an attempt to inculcate Jewish-American children with the BDS movement’s political agenda.”
The evidence they cite includes:
• “The main author and the majority of contributors to ‘Reframing Israel’ are part of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. This includes the writer of the curriculum’s ‘historical overview of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.’ ”
• The historical overview “begins by downplaying the relationship between the Jewish people and Israel, focusing on religious instead of historical and archaeological aspects.” “Sections about the Jewish connection to the land are prefaced with phrases like, ‘in Jewish tradition,’ or ‘according to the Hebrew Bible,’ rather than being anchored in the certainty of well-documented historical facts.” For instance, there is no discussion that the name Palestine comes from the ancient Roman occupation, not from an Arab or Jewish source.
• “The overview whitewashes the centuries of institutionalized oppression, discriminatory taxation and violence Jews faced under Muslim rule across the Middle East, including in the Holy Land.” The authors quote this from the overview: “Following the founding of Islam in the seventh century CE, Jews and Muslims, as well as local Christians, generally lived, worked and worshiped peacefully alongside one another in what many today call the ‘Holy Land.’ Excepting the period of the Crusades, it was only toward the end of the 19th century that sustained tensions began to emerge among the different communities of the region.”
• “The BDS movement is introduced entirely uncritically to Jewish children. In the ‘Key Terms’ section, BDS is described favorably as having ‘attracted significant global support,’ with opposition coming only from ‘Jewish organizations’ for reasons unknown.” The authors point out that BDS is overwhelmingly opposed by Western political leaders, major American academic institutions and the mainstream Jewish community.
The authors warn that – while appearing evenhanded to the casual observer and students just learning about the conflict – “Reframing Israel” uncritically accepts the Palestinian narrative of the conflict.
Need to Know is an occasional column on issues of Jewish interest. Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.