The Saudis are at it again, and this time America's school children are the victims. It's no secret that the princes in Riyadh fund anti-American, anti-Israel, and anti-Semitic propaganda in mosques and madrassas across the globe. But now a yearlong investigation by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency exposes that the oil kingdom's virulent tentacles also stretch into America's public school system.
The JTA says textbooks used in public schools across the country "are highly critical of democratic institutions and forgiving of repressive ones." The books also "praise and sometimes promote Islam, but criticize Judaism and Christianity and are filled with false assertions."
One such book is the "Arab World Studies Notebook." The JTA reports that it suggests that Jews have "undue influence on U.S. foreign policy" and that its country section omits any information on Israel and only refers to "Palestine." The book writes that the Koran "synthesizes and perfects earlier revelations," namely Jewish and Christian. According to the JTA the two organizations behind the book - the Arab World and Islamic Resources and the Middle East Policy Council - receive funding from Saudi Arabia: AWAIR from the state-owned Saudi Aramco oil company and MPEC directly from Riyadh. According to MPEC's Web site it has "conducted Workshops in 175 different cities in 43 states," which "more than 16,000 educators have attended."
The American Jewish Committee published a study in February criticizing the book and urged "school districts across the nation" to ban it. A spokesman for the AJCommittee, Kenneth Bandler, told The New York Sun that they haven't been able to track whether the book is used in New York City's schools but that "it's possible." The director of communications for the New York City department of education, Stephen Morello, queried by the Sun, said that the department launched an "aggressive effort to find out" whether the book was used in the city's schools. Mr. Morello told the Sun that the book was not found as far as he can tell in the city's schools and that it is "unlikely it is being used."
The department of education has a good record in removing unsuitable influences from its schools and teachers. In February the city's schools chancellor, Joel Klein, barred the head of Columbia University's Middle East Institute, Rashid Khalidi, from lecturing the city's teachers on how to teach the Middle East. Whether other education departments across the country follow New York's lead and investigate whether Saudi propaganda is being taught in their classrooms will be something for the Congress and parents to watch.