Rantz: Anti-Semitic 5th grade lesson claims Israel stole its land, mirrors Hamas propaganda

Jul 14, 2021, 7:39 PM | Updated: Jul 15, 2021, 5:24 am
Washington State schools were offered a curriculum that mirrored propaganda you'd read from terrori...
Washington State schools were offered a curriculum that mirrored propaganda you'd read from terrorist organization Hamas. It's also nowhere near historically accurate. It was so offensive, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) edited it out of the document after the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH started asking questions.

Washington state schools were offered a curriculum that mirrored propaganda you’d read from terrorist organization Hamas. It’s also nowhere near historically accurate.

The 5th-grade lesson plan compares the treatment of Native Americans by European settlers to the treatment of Palestinians by the state of Israel. Thanks to “Israeli dominance,” the curriculum claims, Palestinians lost their “sacred homelands.”

It was so offensive that the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) edited it out of the document after the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH started asking questions.

Anti-Semitic propaganda as 5th-grade curriculum

The curriculum, posted on the OSPI website, was part of a lesson plan titled: “Independence: Revolution and U.S. Constitution in Indian Country.”

It covers a number of historical events, including the French and Indian War, the Conestoga Massacre, and Pontiac’s War.

But it also aims to make comparisons to other issues. It tells teachers that students should “compare the similarities between the struggles for Independence of the Indian Nations, the U.S. Colonies, and (if the teacher chooses) another contemporary struggle, such as the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.”

The bizarre and historically illiterate comparison shows up in a student learning activity. The document says:

Students will create a Timeline of Events that lead up to either the Indian or American Fight for Independence. (If you plan to make contemporary connections, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would work. Why do the Palestinians want to be free from Israeli dominance? Have their sacred homelands returned to them?).

The claim that Israel stole land from Palestinians is, of course, inaccurate. Jewish leaders building modern Israel, starting in 1881, were trying to escape persecution. The land itself was originally Jewish land.

The term “Palestinian” in the context used in this example didn’t even exist before the mid-1960s. It was a political invention unconnected to any historical claim to Jewish land. In other words, there are no historical “sacred homelands” to be “returned.”

And any comparison to settlers and Native Americans is outrageous. Unfortunately, it’s part of a fringe, left-wing, anti-Semitic narrative that pretends Israel commits genocide against Palestinians while seeking to erase Jewish history.

State Superintendent pulls the content

OSPI confirmed to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that they edited out the comparison from the curriculum document. The move came after I asked if Superintendent Chris Reykdal thought the comparison was appropriate.

“As we immediately read it, [we] said this is completely inappropriate and took it down,” Reykdal explained on the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

Reykdal said it was posted online about a decade ago by a contractor who wrote lesson plans for the office. He acknowledges he does not know how many teachers used the lesson. But that is one reason why he said he took it down quickly: to keep it from being used.

“This is one of those places where I think two people like you and I who don’t always see the world similarly, certainly see the devastating effects of anti-Semitism. And it comes in extreme forms like a tragic shooting in Seattle, but it comes in smaller forms too, like the implicit bias of a lesson plan that somebody might have thought 10 years ago was innocent,” Reykdal told me.

The curriculum itself is mandated by the state Legislature and is called Since Time Immemorial: Tribal Sovereignty in Washington State (STI).

The superintendent said his office will now institute a “bias and sensitivity review process … to this curriculum going forward.”

The actual history

The comparison to Native American history is particularly problematic to KTTH host Michael Medved. He is an expert on the Arab/Israeli conflict.

“European settlers in the New World had no historic connection, of any kind, of the land they came to occupy. Massachusetts was the not ancient homeland of the Pilgrims, nor had Europeans ever inhabited that part of the world,” Medved tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “For the Jews who began the modern Zionist movement, they were returning to the only homeland they had ever claimed. The only time that the land of Israel ever constituted an independent commonwealth or kingdom, it was Jewish — from 1,100 BC to 70 AD, and then again from 1948 to the present. Despite exiles and persecutions, Jewish communities also flourished in the region — with Jews the plurality of Jerusalem’s population as early as 1850.”

Medved notes that Native Americans had meaningful connections to their land, along with “well-established tribal identities.” That didn’t exist for “Palestinians.”

“The majority of Palestinians at the time of Israeli independence were new arrivals — close to 60% had immigrated to the land after the upsurge in economic activity and population after the Zionist settlement had begun,” Medved explains. “Until the establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1965, the idea of a ‘Palestinian identity,’ distinct from the Arab identity already represented by 22 independent nation states, had never been claimed. That’s why Palestinians never complained when the West Bank was part of Jordan (1948 to 1967) and Gaza was part of Egypt.”

Did you like this opinion piece? Then listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz  on  Twitter,  Instagram, and Parler, and like me on Facebook

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Rantz: Anti-Semitic 5th grade lesson claims Israel stole its land, mirrors Hamas propaganda