Today’s Class: Hating Jews 101June 15, 2008 at 1:06 am | Posted in Anti-Semitism | Leave a comment
Saturday, June 14, 2008
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Today’s class: Hating Jews 101
Curriculum review finds Islamic schools in America breeding anti-Semitism
Posted: June 13, 2008
11:40 pm Eastern
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has suspected since last year that textbooks used at a Saudi-run school in Alexandria, Va., advocated religious bigotry. Now, the commission says, it has proof of its suspicions.
In October of 2007, the congressionally-formed, bipartisan commission actually recommended closing the Islamic Saudi Academy, even though at the time, it had not reviewed the school’s textbooks.
But through congressional offices and other private sources, the commission was able to review curriculum used at the school and released their report this week.
The commission’s spokeswoman, Judith Ingram, told the Associated Press, “We feel more confident that the potential problems we flagged before really are there.”
Among the commission’s most disturbing finds was the teaching that it was the Jews who conspired to create the schism between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.
A textbook on social science that the commission reviewed reads, “The cause of the discord: The Jews conspired against Islam and its people. A sly, wicked person who sinfully and deceitfully professed Islam infiltrated” the Muslim faith.
Dr. Andrew Bostom, an associate professor and researcher of medicine and author of The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism explained to WND this teaching.
According Bostom, one of Islam’s oldest and most respected Sunni historians, al-Tabari (d. 923), taught that a renegade Yemenite Jew, Abdallah b. Saba, infiltrated the Muslim faith, propagated false teachings (Shia Islam) and launched the split between Sunnis and Shiites.
“That’s (al-Tabari’s) basic story line,” said Bostom, “it’s a Jew who is in fact responsible for adopting a heretical version of Islam, which became Shiism, and eventually the whole Shiite sect. It’s all considered the invention of a renegade Jew.”
The commission grew suspicious of the curriculum’s content after reviewing a study of textbooks from the Saudi Ministry of Education, used in other countries, but also distributed to Saudi schools in America. Those books, said commissioner Nina Shea, contained “blatant anti-Semitism,” and raised questions about what books were being used at the Islamic Saudi Academy.
After reviewing the Academy’s texts, the commission concluded that the books used in the school have been cut, covered, and altered, “but not sufficient revision to remove all objectionable material,” said the report. “They appear to be Saudi Ministry of Education textbooks, with some alterations but with identical wording in many sections of the texts.”
The commission’s review of the Islamic Saudi Academy’s material isn’t the only recent case of anti-Semitism found in Islamic American schools.
A 2003 NY Daily News investigation found that 7th-graders at the Ideal Islamic School in New York City were studying a book that taught that “the reasons for Jewish hostility lies in their general characteristics.” The book then listed numerous Koranic citations with negative references to Jews, including, “You will ever find them deceitful, except for a few of them.”
“One of the fundamental problems we have to come to grips with,” said Bostom, “is that this material is toxic. And we cannot pretend that (the anti-Semitism) is a modern Saudi gloss put on by radical interpreters.”
“This material in many cases is a reiterating of the foundational texts of Islam. This goes all the way back to citing the anti-Semitic teachings of al-Tabari, author of some of the most historically important Muslim commentaries. We can’t blame radical, Wahabi interpreters; these are mainstream interpretations.”
Bostom told WND that he is concerned about the long-term impact of this teaching. “We have the evidence that if you teach this to children, they grow up to hate,” he said, citing a 2005 Pew Poll that revealed that throughout the Muslim world, opinions of Jews are highly unfavorable – from a 99 percent very unfavorable view of Jews in Jordan and Lebanon to a 76 percent very unfavorable view in Indonesia.
Bostom also mentioned the case of Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, the 1999 valedictorian of the Islamic Saudi Academy, who was convicted in 2005 of providing material support to Al Qaeda, and plotting to kill President Bush.
Commissioner Shea expressed her concern over the impact of these teachings in a 2006 Voice of America interview. “It’s not just the five million students within Saudi Arabia who are being indoctrinated in this ideology,” she said. “And that’s what it is: an ideology of intolerance, of hatred. But they’re disseminating it and exporting it to their own schools, a network of twenty schools around the world, including one near Washington.”
The Islamic Saudi Academy is a college preparatory educational institution, established in 1984 and funded by the Saudi government. It gives admission priority to Saudi nationals and children of Saudi diplomats working in nearby Washington D.C. The school serves students with an American curriculum, along with Arabic and Islamic studies courses on two campuses in the Alexandria, Va., area.
Ordinarily, the federal government would have little oversight over a private religious school, but because the school is funded by the Saudi government and could be considered a Saudi entity, the government has greater discretion because of its ability to regulate the non-diplomatic activities of foreign governments inside the United States.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, however, is not empowered to act on or enforce its findings but has advisory and monitoring authority only. It reports its recommendations to the president, secretary of state, and congress.