A textbook used in American high schools is believed by some parents to support Palestinian terrorism. At the very least, the textbook teaches students to be anti-Israel.
Parents in Williamson County, Tennessee are outraged that a school book utilized in advanced placement classes titled “The Cultural Landscape: An Introduction to Human Geography” includes passages that they interpret to be support for Palestinian terrorism. The textbook was on a list of approved textbooks by the Tennessee Department of Education and was thus adopted by Williamson County. The parents in Williamson County, Tennessee cite numerous examples of the problematic nature of this textbook.
For example, Hamas and Hezbollah are described as political groups rather than as terrorist groups in the textbook. Furthermore, in one particularly disturbing quote, high school students are asked, “If a Palestinian suicide bomber kills several dozen Israeli teenagers in a Jerusalem restaurant, is that an act of terrorism or wartime retaliation against Israeli government policies and army actions?” The textbook also states, “Advocates of the Palestinian cause argue that long-standing injustices and Israeli army attacks on ordinary Palestinians provoked the act.”
Julia West, whose 15-year-old son uses the book at Franklin High School, was very much disturbed by how the textbook displayed bias against Israel. “We’re living in a time where people are saying, ‘How could anyone put a bomb outside a restaurant or on a street intending to kill innocent people?'” West said. “And we ask ourselves that, when at the same time our children are being taught from a curriculum that says that might be okay, or at least it might be okay if those kids are Jewish.” High Nemets, another parent, complained: “It smells of anti-semitism to me. It opened the door to legitimizing terror.”
Laurie Cardoza-Moore, president of pro-Israel group Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, believes that this textbook is part of a new wave of anti-Semitism where information presented in an anti-Israel fashion is woven into students’ thinking to try to delegitimize Israel’s very right to exist. When she spoke at the Williamson School Board meeting, she compared subtle references in the book to Nazis Germany. “The Holocaust did not happen in a vacuum. This type of anti-Semitism has no place and shouldn’t be taught to our future leaders,” Cardoza-Moore said.
Bill Nigut, who is the Southeast regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, also objected to this textbook because it creates a false equivalency, yet unlike Nemets and Cardoza-Moore, does not believe that it constituted anti-semitism. He nevertheless did state, “To ask whether a bombing that kills Israeli children is a proper response to acts of war is absurd. Children are not legitimate targets in a war.”
Mark Freedman, executive director of the Jewish Federation, believes that this textbook should not be taught in schools, even in elective advanced placement classes. He stated, “To create moral equivalency between specific acts of terror and legitimate territorial disputes that are political in nature serves to legitimize wanton and premeditated violence against innocent civilian victims. To further allow distorted, unbalanced and prejudicial content to stand as a form of academic inquiry is a perversion of our educational system and a disservice to all the children who learn in that system.”
To protest, we have added the email and phone number of the Executive Director of the Tennessee Board of Education. The director is in charge of the schools’ curriculum and through them you can lodge a complaint against the passages which legitimize terrorism.
Their number is (615) 741-2966 or you can email: Gary.Nixon@tn.gov