How an Israeli lobby infiltrated US education
Mintpress news investigates how the Institute for Curriculum Services (ICS) pushing a Zionist narrative within the US education system.
According to Mintpress news, the Institute for Curriculum Services (ICS), a pro-"Israel" "educational" institution, has attempted to make textbook edits to school curriculums in the US.
In Virginia in 2018, the Virginia Coalition for Human Rights (VCHR) halted the adoption of textbook edits made by ICS in the state.
The ICS claims it increases the accuracy of "Jewish and Judaism history" within the US curriculum, however, it appears to be more focused on promoting a Zionist anti-Palestinian narrative.
ICS alleged that it has improved public education in the US. MintPress News investigated how ICS distorts the facts about "Israel" in American classrooms.
In 2018, a Virginia activist Jeanne Trabulsi was present during a Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) webinar featuring ICS in which its director detailed how the organization works with Jewish Community Relations Councils (JCRCs) to alter textbook revisions.
After the webinar, Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep) sent a request to Virginia’s Department of Education, under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, for all documents submitted by ICS, JCPA and JCRCs.
IRmep discovered that the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond and the JCRCs of Greater Washington, Richmond, and Tidewater submitted ICS-proposed amendments to the Virginia Department of Education.
Changes to school textbooks included the following:
-Settlers be referred to as "communities," occupation” replaced with “control of,” “wall” with “security fence,” “occupied territories” with “captured areas,” and “militant” with “terrorist.”
-A proposal was done to discourage students from conducting their own searches online and instead rely on the Anti-Defamation League's website and JewishVirtualLibrary.org.
-References to "Palestinian Territories" be erased.
-Alter maps so Al-Quds and the Golan Heights be recognized as Israeli instead of occupied.
According to Mintpress, ICS operates as a nonprofit under the 501(c)(3) status of San Francisco’s JCRC and is a grantee of the Schusterman Family Foundation, which also funds the American "Israel" Education Foundation, an American "Israel" Public Affairs Committee charity organizing congressional visits to "Israel."
ICS not only hosts textbook modifications but also teacher training. Currently, 90 locations in the United States have sponsored ICS seminars, with over 6,000 instructors participating. Trabulsi enrolled in their signature course, "Teaching the History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict Using Primary Sources." She characterized their teaching approaches as follows:
"They are highly selective about what documents they do include in their teaching modules. If you didn’t know the story of the Arab world and Israel, you’d think they’re pretty good. I remember one student remarking that the Israelis have offered peace to the Arabs so many times, what else could the Arabs possibly want?”
At the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and IRmep’s annual "Israel" Lobby Conference, Trabulsi stated that the “VCHR believes that ICS is enmeshed with and funded by Israel affinity groups that drive their pro-Israel advocacy. We believe that this results in biased and inaccurate textbooks and teacher training."
Across the board
MintPress requested any materials supplied by ICS, JCPA, JCRCs, or Jewish federations during curriculum and textbook review procedures from education agencies or boards in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Because textbook and curriculum decisions are determined at the local district level in nineteen states, information on proposed revisions is not accessible. Fourteen states reported no such contacts. Eleven states and the District of Columbia had not responded as of the time of writing. California, New Mexico, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Kentucky, on the other hand, gave information on correspondence with ICS, their states' Jewish federations, and JCRCs.
In Kentucky, ICS changes centered on including allusions to ancient "Israel" and the Holocaust in the text. The Jewish Federation of New Mexico issued an ICS assessment of social studies standards to their state's education administration, recommending that "Nation of Israel" be changed to "State of Israel." In South Carolina, ICS evaluations of a National Geographic Learning and Cengage Learning textbook highlighted the addition of allusions to Palestinian terrorism.
In California, where ICS is located, JPAC, the Jewish Community Relations Councils of San Francisco and Sacramento, and the Jewish Federations of Greater Los Angeles and the Desert forwarded recommended amendments made by ICS to the state's education department. The groups praised California for accepting earlier ICS modifications in their cover letter.
Numerous publishing textbooks were reviewed by ICS with the following changes:
-Erasing "Palestine" and "West Bank" references
-Changing "Palestine" to "Judah"
-Adding "mandate" and "region" to Palestine references
-Erasing references to "Palestinian cultural heritage"
-Altering the idea of Jews "Settling" in Palestine to "joining Jews already there"
-Erasing referencing "Israel's" capture of the West Bank in 1967
In Louisiana, the North Louisiana Jewish Federation, Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, and Jewish Federation of Baton Rouge wrote to the state Department of Education on behalf of ICS, recommending that ICS revise content published by some publication companies.
Alterations include erasing mentions of "Israel" seizing territory, mentions of "the Green Line," "Historic Palestine", erasing mentions of Israeli human rights abuses, and mentions of Palestine as a "Country," and many more such as adding references of "Palestinian terrorism."
Eradicating Palestine's existence and indigenous Palestinian identity was a frequent topic throughout ICS amendments. "They relabeled maps and they deleted all references to Palestine." "You can call it Mandatory Palestine, but never Palestine," Trabulsi remarked at an "Israel" Lobby conference. "They want to change the word Palestine to Palestinian. The reasoning is there is no state of Palestine, nor has there ever been.”
Following criticism from pro-"Israel" groups, left-wing activists accused the final approval of the California Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum of being "white-washed" and "watered down."
The Anti-Defamation League's No Place for Hate project is active in hundreds of schools across the United States, encouraging them to use ADL materials. Pro-"Israel" groups are also relentless in their pursuit of Palestinian and solidarity activists on college campuses around the country.
Progressive movements, though, are pushing back. The Texas Coalition for Human Rights (TCHR) was successful in convincing the state board of education to revise curricular requirements pertaining to Palestine-"Israel" in 2018.
TCHR activist Alex McDonald believes the faulty US system needs to be reworked to ensure accuracy when it comes to Palestine. “The goal is to stifle the conversation and the criticism,” McDonald told MintPress News. “And ICS is just one small part of the brainwashing."