September 19, 2018

Massachusetts School Board Avoids Lawsuit Over Anti-Israel Curriculum Info — For Now

A school board in Newton, Mass. has temporarily avoided a lawsuit over obstructing matters related to the anti-Israel material being disseminated in Newton school classrooms.

The August 9 lawsuit, filed by Education Without Indoctrination (EWI) alleges that students in Newton Public Schools (NPS) are being taught “materials that slander Israel and the Jewish people, and that falsify history to promote the Islamic religion.” The lawsuit alleged that the Newton School Committee and NPS Superintendent David Fleishman have allegedly been “stonewalling” parent efforts to learn more about what is being taught about Israel and Islam in Newton classrooms as well as written evaluations of Fleishman’s performance as superintendent.

As part of the alleged stonewalling, the lawsuit argued that the committee would remove comments from parents criticizing the curriculum as being biased against Israel from their meetings minutes, which EWI argued is in violation of Massachusetts’ Open Meeting law.

“There was not one mention of any person who had spoken in opposition…which was astounding,” EWI member and counsel Karen Hurvitz told the Newton TAB.

Hurvitz also told The Jewish Advocate that the committee showed “no concern” over the parents’ criticisms of the curriculum.

On August 21, the school committee agreed to put those comments into the meeting minutes as well as made the evaluations of Fleischman publicly available. Committee chair Ruth Goldman told the TAB that the committee is still “very new” and that all meetings have been televised, which is why they didn’t have any complaints about the meeting minutes until the EWI lawsuit.

EWI will be reviewing the documents. Hurvitz told The Jewish Advocate that they’re going to ask for a court hearing on Sept. 12 to decide if what the committee has released fully meets the requirements of the Open Meeting law.

“They can’t whitewash the record, which is what they’ve been doing,” Hurvitz told the TAB. “It’s like cooking the books. They can’t cook the books any more. They have to be honest.”

Assistant City Solicitor Jill Murray, who is representing the committee, told the Journal in a phone interview that the lawsuit will have no impact on the curriculum itself. When asked by the Journal why the documents in question were not released to the public prior to the lawsuit, Murray responded that she was not interested in a “back-and-forth.”

According to a book by Steven Stotsky of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) titled “Indoctrinating Our Youth: How a U.S. Public School Curriculum Skews the Arab-Israeli Conflict and Islam,” in 2011 it was revealed that Newton was teaching students material from a book titled “Arab World Studies Notebook” alleging that hundreds of Palestinian women “have been imprisoned, tortured, and killed by Israeli occupation forces.” The book also stated that there is a “Hollywood Jewish conspiracy” to portray Arabs unfavorably in movies.

Despite criticism from parents over the book, the school district refused to pull it from their curriculum for more than a year; when they did revoke it they claimed it was because the book was “outdated.” However, one Newton high school is still using the book in lesson plans.

Stotsky also notes that Newton’s curriculum teaches that Jerusalem is “Palestine’s capital” and that Israel refused Arab offers of land-for-peace following the Six Day War – all part of a pattern of false anti-Israel bias being promulgated by the district’s curriculum, Strotsky argues.

The books are also reportedly funded by Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s major oil company that has defended the Arabs’ desire to attack Israel in the Six-Day-War, as well as the Qatari government, which has warm ties with the Iranian regime and funds Islamic terror groups like Hamas and al-Qaeda.