The title of my post is not true. But it could be, which is really, really sad:
American elementary and high school textbooks contain many “gross misrepresentations” of Judaism, Christianity and Israel, according to a book-length study released this week by the San Francisco-based Institute for Jewish and Community Research.
“It is shocking to discover that history and geography textbooks widely used in America’s elementary and secondary classrooms contain some of the very same inaccuracies about Christianity, Judaism and the Middle East as those [used] in Iran,” the IJCR said in a summary of the findings of the five-year study.
Among the “outrageous misrepresentations” the study found was “a denial of the Jewish roots of Jesus,” as when the textbook The World relates that “Christianity was started by a young Palestinian named Jesus.”
“Textbooks include negative stereotypes of Jews, Judaism and Israel,” the authors write. “For example, textbooks tend to discredit the ties between Jews and the land of Israel.”
According to Tobin, “you’re much more likely to learn about Jewish terrorism before the founding of Israel [in the textbooks] than about terrorism against Israel since that time.”
Among the claims made about Israel in some of the textbooks are that Arab countries never initiated wars against Israel, Arab nations desire peace while Israel does not and that it was Israel that placed Palestinians in refugee camps in Arab lands, not Arab governments. No mention whatsoever was found relating to the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab countries who were forced out after the establishment of Israel.
In their treatment of Judaism, too, the textbooks showed a negative bias, according to the study. They often expressed a view that “Jews and Judaism are legalistic,” and that “Jews care only about the letter of the law and ignore its spirit,” the study found. The Jewish God is presented as “stern and warlike,” and not compassionate, as is highlighted in other religions. In some instances, Jews are charged with deicide in the killing of Jesus.
Not all religions are treated equally, of course. Guess which religion comes in for special reverence?
“Textbook publishers often defer completely to Muslim groups for their content [on Islam] because they want to be sensitive to Muslim concerns,” he explained. “So they write that Mohammed is a prophet of God, without the qualifier you should have in a public school that shows you’re teaching about religion, rather than teaching religion.”
One example among the many cited in the study is in World History: Continuity and Change, in which a glossary entry on the Ten Commandments describes them as “Moral laws Moses claimed to have received from the Hebrew God Yahweh on Mount Sinai.”
The same glossary describes the Koran as a “Holy Book of Islam containing revelations received by Muhammad from God” – without a conditional qualifier.
This makes me heartsick.
Hat tip: Richard Baehr