U.S. Textbooks: ‘Jesus was Palestinian’

The most popular schoolbooks in America deprecate Jews and Torah, and are full of falsehoods like 'Christianity was started by a Palestinian man.’

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Ze'ev Ben-Yechiel,

"Christianity was started by a young Palestinian named Jesus." This is one of hundreds of distortions, misrepresentations and falsehoods found about Judaism and Jewish history by a comprehensive study of the 28 most widely used Social Studies textbooks in the United States. In a landmark book called “The Trouble with Textbooks,” Dr. Gary A. Tobin and Dennis R. Ybarra show how millions of American schoolchildren are taught anti-Semitic versions of Jewish history and faith, particularly in relation to Christianity and Islam, in passages that often amount to sheer libel.

 

The authors found that U.S. textbooks “tend to discredit the ties between Jews and the Land of Israel. Israel is blamed for starting wars in the region and being colonialist. Jews are charged with deicide in the killing of Jesus. All in all, there are repeated misrepresentations that cross the line into bigotry.”

 

Among the teachings that were found in American textbooks are the following distortions:

 

·         Jesus was a “Palestinian”, not a Jew.

·         The Arab nations never attacked Israel. Arab-Israeli wars “just broke out,” or Israel started them.

·         Arabs nations want peace but Israel does not.

·         Israel expelled all Palestinian refugees.

·         Israel put the Palestinians in refugee camps in Arab lands, not Arab governments.

·         Palestinian terrorism is nonexistent or minimal.

·         Israel is not a victim of terrorism or terrorism against Israel is justified.

·         U.S. support of Israel causes terrorism, including 9/11.

·         The intifadas were children’s revolts not involving adults or terrorism.

·         Jews and Judaism are legalistic. Jews are only about the letter of the law and ignore its spirit.

Tobin and Ybarra point out that in many books the Jewish G-d is depicted as “stern and warlike. G-d’s compassionate qualities, highlighted in lessons about other religions, are missing when Judaism is discussed." They cite numerous cases of a bias against the very foundations of Judaism, while those of Islam and Christianity are treated as fact.
The textbooks “come dangerously close to perpetuating the idea that Jews caused the crucifixion of Jesus and are guilty as a group of deicide, “the killing of G-d.”

In the glossary of one such biased book, World History: Continuity and Change, the entry on the Ten Commandments describes them as "Moral laws Moses claimed to have received from the Hebrew G-d Y-hweh on Mount Sinai." In the very same glossary, however, the book treats the Koran as sacred: It is a "Holy Book of Islam containing revelations received by Muhammad from G-d.”

The study found that “Islam is treated with a devotional tone in some textbooks, less detached and analytical than it ought to be. Muslim beliefs are described in several instances as fact, without any clear qualifier such as ‘Muslims believe . . .’

 

According to Tobin and Ybarra, a preoccupation with placating Muslims results in “Politically motivated propaganda” that “wheedles its way into textbooks. “Islam is treated with a devotional tone in some textbooks, less detached and analytical than it ought to be. Muslim beliefs are described in several instances as fact, without any clear qualifier such as “Muslims believe...”

 

The authors found that the Islamic empire of the Middle Ages was presented as “a time of unqualified glory without blemishes” and that Islam and Muslims are portrayed as having “always tolerated Jews,” unlike their Christian counterparts. With respect to both Christianity and Islam, they found that Judaism, both as a spiritual contribution to mankind and as a physical presence in Israel, is commonly deprecated in comparison to the other faiths.  Often the textbooks use the words “stories,” “legends,” and even “tales” when discussing Jewish writings, and chapters on Jewish history are full of phrases like “it is told that . . .” or “the Israelites are said to...”

 

They cited examples where the word “Palestine” was used to describe the land of Israel in historical periods long before the misnomer was invented by the conquering Romans, and found that “several textbooks describe Judaism as only a precursor to Christianity, not a faith of intrinsic value that stands on its own.”

 

Perhaps most disturbing, they discovered that the textbooks “come dangerously close to perpetuating the idea that Jews caused the crucifixion of Jesus and are guilty as a group of deicide, “the killing of G-d.” 

 

“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 in Iran and the Arab world,” wrote the authors in a summary of the book.

Tobin said that these alarming distortions and inaccuracies were as much a product of “amateurish scholarship” as any anti-Semitic bias, but the effect, he noted, remains the same: “If the president of Iran wants to blast Israel at the U.N., he can use American textbooks to do so."






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