Harvard's Middle East Outreach Center: Propaganda for
Teachers by Stephen Schwartz
Muslim, confessed in an interview with ABC News 20/20
broadcast in 1996, and reaffirmed in a 2005 New Yorker profile and
a New York Times interview
in 2009, that he had assassinated Ali Akbar Tabatabai. A former employee of the
Iranian Embassy in Washington under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Tabatabai was
slain on his doorstep in Bethesda, Md., in 1980. Belfield committed the act as
a paid mercenary of the new Iranian regime of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and
he remains a fugitive from American justice.
also commemorates the 2007 "Boston
Palestine Film Festival" at the Harvard Law School, which
screened "USA v. Al-Arian," a documentary supporting Sami Al-Arian,
who pled guilty to conspiracy to provide services to the terrorist group
Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and "Occupation 101," by Sufyan and
Abdallah Omeish. The latter, we are told, "details life under Israeli
military rule, the US role in the conflict, and the major obstacles to a viable
peace." Other films at the event attacked Israel's security wall and
alleged Israeli abuse of water resources.
CMES Program's "Teaching Resources" are clearly aimed at young
people, with such items as "Teaching
About the Middle East Through Comics and Graphic Novels," "Teaching
About the Middle East Through Hip-Hop" -- i.e., "rap music" --
Street Art, and Political Protest."
the rubric of "Curriculum Guides, Publications, and Fact Sheets," the
program offers a list of "Young-Adult
Literature on Israel Palestine," all "available from the
Outreach Center." Of the six books included therein, four explicitly
justify Palestinian violence against Israel, beginning with the
unambiguously-titled A Stone in My Hand, by Cathryn Clinton (Cambridge,
MA: Candlewick Press, 2002; grades 5-10). This book is described as follows:
in Gaza City during the first intifada in 1988, this is the story of 11-year
old Malaak and her family. Malaak shows resilience through immeasurable losses.
Written by an American author, this historical fiction attempts to portray the
realities of the Israeli occupation in Gaza from a Palestinian perspective.
titles in the "Young Adult" list include Tasting the Sky: A
Palestinian Childhood, by Ibtisam Barakat (New York: Farrar, Straus &
Giroux, 2007; grades 4-10), and If You Could Be My Friend: Letters of
Mervet Akram Sha'Ban and Galit Fink, by Litsa Boudalika (New York: Orchard
Books, 1998; grades 6-10). The latter consists of a "collection of letters
written from 1988 to 1991 during the time of the first intifada ...
correspondence between a Palestinian girl living in a refugee camp in the West
Bank and an Israeli girl living in Jerusalem." The list also recommends Samir
and Yonatan, by Daniella Carmi (New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2000;
grades 4-8), in which "[a] Palestinian boy comes to terms with the death
of his younger brother, killed by an Israeli soldier."
for public school use additionally feature "Teaching
Sense Making Around Israel/Palestine: Power Point
Introduction," a propaganda presentation signed by Beran himself. This
"teaching aid" identifies "Five Problems" in the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict: "Refugees[,] Borders[,] Resources[,] Jerusalem[,]
Settlements." "Palestinians as terrorists" is identified as an
"unsophisticated" view, while "Israel is hegemon" figures
as a "sophisticated" approach.
same catalogue entices teachers with a Gaza Fact
Sheet that endorses the Israeli pro-Arab group B'tselem but neglects
mention of the terrorist Hamas movement, which controls the territory. The Outreach
Center's search engine turns up lectures and readings by or drawn from the
Israel-bashing discourse of Noam Chomsky,
and Edward Said.
is clear that Harvard CMES and its director, Paul Beran, are committed to the
adoption of a one-sided, anti-Israel, and pro-Arab introduction to Middle East
issues for American schoolchildren. In its "subtler" way, the Harvard
approach is as bad as or worse than that pursued by John Esposito at
Stephen Schwartz is
executive director of the
Islamic Pluralism. He wrote this article for Campus Watch, a
project of the Middle East Forum.
Taqiyya for Kids by Janet Tassel
The Middle East Policy Council, a pressure group based in Washington.
D.C...adopted its present name in 1991. The MEPC's activities
include the sponsoring of "teacher workshops" that allegedly equip
educators to teach about "the Arab World and Islam. AWAIR,
which operates from Abiquiu, New Mexico, distributes printed items and
videos for "ALL LEVELS-Elementary to College" and runs the "teacher
workshops" sponsored by the MEPC."
But on to the meat in Mr Bennetta's scathing report:
The promotion of Islam in the Notebook is unrestrained, and the
religious-indoctrination material that the Notebook dispenses is
virulent. Muslim myths, including myths about how Islam and the Koran
originated, are retailed as matters of fact, while legitimate
historical appraisals of the origins of Islam and the Koran are
excluded. [Audrey] Shabbas wants to turn teachers into agents who, in
their classrooms, will present Muslim myths as "history," will endorse
Muslim religious claims, and will propagate Islamic fundamentalism. In
a public-school setting, the religious-indoctrination work which
Shabbas wants teachers to perform would clearly be illegal.
Or, in the words of Tony Pagliuso, "total propaganda." What is
striking, though, is how amateurish the chapter on women is. Taqiyya --
telling falsehoods for Islam -- is a well-known tool of Islamic
propagandists, but this shoddy merchandise is so riddled with lies and
half-truths that no respectable Arab merchant in the shuk would hang it
in his market. Just a sample:
Women's Rights in Islam. There is no basis in Islam for the subjugation
of women or their relegation to a secondary role. Far in advance of
women's emancipation in Europe, Islam made revolutionary changes in the
lives of women in 6th-century Arabia.
The alert reader will observe that there was no Islam yet in
6th-century Arabia, Muhammad himself having been born in about 570, and
having been tapped by the angel Gabriel no earlier then about 609. Then
too we think of the unpleasantries swept under the Oriental carpet --
such as permissible rape, clitorectomies, honor killings, child
marriage, indeed the whole sorry gamut of women's trials under Islam,
including those specifically decreed by the Koran. As Robert
Spencer sums up:
--Women are inferior to men, and must be rruled by them: "Men have
authority over women because God has made the one superior to the
--It [the Koran] likens a woman to a fieldd (tilth), to be used by a man
as he wills: "Your women are a tilth for you to cultivate so go to your
tilth as ye will" (2:223).
--It declares that a woman's legal testimoony is worth half that of a
man: "Get two witnesses, out of your own men, and if there are not two
men, then a man and two women, such as ye choose, for witnesses, so
that if one of them errs, the other can remind her" (2:282).
--It allows men to marry up to four wives,, and also to have sex with
slave girls: "If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with
the orphans, marry women of your choice, two or three or four; but if
ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only
one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more
suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice" (4:3).
--It rules that a son's inheritance shouldd be twice the size of that of
a daughter: "Allah (thus) directs you as regards your children's
(inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females"
--It allows for marriage to pre-pubescent girls, stipulating that
Islamic divorce procedures "shall apply to those who have not yet
"Such a verse might have made its way into the Koran," writes Spencer,
"because of the notorious fact that Muhammed himself had a child
bride." That would be Aisha: As the hadith says, "The prophet married
her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she
was nine years old, and then she remained with him for nine years (i.e.
till his death)." Newton's Notebook chapter mentions Aisha in
passing, that she heroically promulgated Islam after the Prophet's
death, but neglects to tell us how old she was when Muhammed found her,
as the story goes, playing on a swing.
It turns out, not surprisingly, that most of the Notebook is as
slipshod, even farcical, as the chapter on women. But it is no less
dangerous for being slovenly. As the AJC report confirms, "Teachers are
subjected to heavy propaganda, both in the Notebook and in the teacher
workshops sponsored by MEPC and conducted by AWAIR, in which the
Notebook is the primary source material....The Notebook critiques other
educational materials for being Eurocentric; yet it provides students
with a completely Muslim-centered perspective."
Worst of all, educationally speaking, in addition to inventing history,
the Notebook is guilty of two cardinal sins, according to the AJC: "It
uses no qualifiers to differentiate between fact and interpretation;
and it fails to clarify that, like the stories behind many other
religions, some of the stories within traditional Islam are disputed or
unverifiable." The all-important qualifier, "Muslims believe," or
"Islam teaches that" is entirely eliminated. Imagine all the Miss
Engels in the world preaching to the class, "And God chose Abraham." Or
"Jesus performed miracles."
Other innovations from the Notebook, these concerning what the author calls "the Israeli 'fetish of Jerusalem'":
When people talk of Jerusalem and consider the historic rights over the
city and claims to it, they are not talking about the European-type
colonial suburb-turned-city which foreign Jews built next to the
historic religious city-shrine, even though they called it Jerusalem
too. They are talking about the walled city, fully built up,
containing a small Jewish quarter, it is true, but almost exclusively a
home to Christian and Muslim Palestinian Arabs.
Yet the "Old City," the Jerusalem that most people envisage when they
think of the ancient city, is Arab. Surrounding it are ubiquitous
high-rises built for Israeli settlers to strengthen Israeli control
over the holy city.
Other colonial suburbs were built by foreigners in Arab countries, but
today no one suggests that Algiers, Tunis, Casablanca, etc., may be
rightfully claimed by the Europeans who settled there during their
colonial period of recent history. Only in the case of Jerusalem
does colonialist thinking still predominate.
How many high-school students would be able to repudiate "facts" like
these? Or total falsehoods such as, "In 1948, between 50 and 70 percent
of Palestine's Christians were driven from their ancestral homes with
the creation of the Jewish state"?
Moreover, in an earlier version, we are told "that Yasir Arafat was
president of a newly declared State of Palestine, that the United
Nations General Assembly had voted to recognize this state in 1988, and
that the Canaanites were the ancestors of many present-day
Palestinians." Sandra Stotsky, a professor at the University of
Arkansas, deals with these gems and others in her 2004 report for the
Fordham Foundation, The Stealth Curriculum, which has now been updated
for a new book published by Palgrave MacMillan. She points to one
article, ascribed to Audrey Shabbas and Abdallah Hakim Quick, titled
"Early Muslim Exploration Worldwide: Evidence of Muslims in the New
World Before Columbus." The article claims that
Muslims from Europe were the first to sail across the Atlantic and land
in the New World, starting in 889... [and that]West African Muslims had
not only spread throughout South and Central America, but had also
reached Canada, intermarrying with the Iroquois and Algonquin nations
so that, much later, early English explorers were to meet Iroquois and
Algonquin chiefs with names like Abdul-Rahim and Abdallah Ibn Malik.
Stotsky interjects, "The idea that English explorers met native
Indian chiefs with Muslim names in the middle of the Northeast
woodlands sounds almost like something a Hollywood film writer dreamed
up for a spoof." (Mel Brooks, of course.) Interestingly enough, the
Algonquin Nation itself demanded a retraction of this "indefensible"
farce. But seriously, as Stotsky continues, "What is most astonishing
about this 'historical information' is that it seems not to have been
recognized as fake history by all the satisfied teachers that MEPC
claims have participated in its workshops over the years."
Ay, there's the rub. Thanks to the Tony Pagliusos of this world,
perhaps more parents will rear up on their hind legs and shout, "Who's
teaching my kids? And what in God's name are they teaching?"