On September 11 itself, the 5th grade of Louis E. Stocklmeir Elementary School in Sunnyvale, California (Cupertino Union School District), had a lesson about 9/11 – probably like many other schools in the US (hat tip: Club Z).
Except this is what they learned (verified from a parent of one of the kids at the school):
Quite the simplistic narrative – and false.
While it is strictly true that Bin Laden did blame US support for Israel, stating that the land belonged to Muslims before Israel was Jewish is wrong and irresponsible. It ignores our indigenous status in the land dating back thousands of years – way before the Islamic conquest in the 7th century – and even the fact the land legally belonged to the British (not the Muslims) before it legally became Jewish in 1948.
This narrative also paints Bin Laden more as a justice seeker than evil terrorist. Especially in the young minds of 5th graders.
This is irresponsible and disturbing.
The article was provided by an outfit called Newsela, and it seems the school did not vet it. After complaints by parents, I am told both the teacher and vice principal were very apologetic and did follow-up with the kids about violence. However, my source tells me they did not discuss again the implications of the article regarding Israel.
As for Newsela, they responded to the criticism by correcting the article. My source has sent me the new version:
Bin Laden was from the Middle East. He said he planned the attacks because he was angry at the United States. He thought the United States was too involved in the Middle East. For example, the United States sold weapons to Saudi Arabia. The United States also gave money to Israel. It is a Jewish country in the Middle East. Many Muslims also live there. The land has been fought over for centuries. Bin Laden believed that Jews should leave the land.
While this is a definite improvement, it is also way too simplistic, and paints both the Muslims and the Jews as two equal, warring parties fighting over the land for centuries.
Let's look back at Bin Laden's letter to the American people. He was waging a religious war.
(ii) It brings us both laughter and tears to see that you have not yet tired of repeating your fabricated lies that the Jews have a historical right to Palestine, as it was promised to them in the Torah. Anyone who disputes with them on this alleged fact is accused of anti-semitism. This is one of the most fallacious, widely-circulated fabrications in history. The people of Palestine are pure Arabs and original Semites. It is the Muslims who are the inheritors of Moses (peace be upon him) and the inheritors of the real Torah that has not been changed. Muslims believe in all of the Prophets, including Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all. If the followers of Moses have been promised a right to Palestine in the Torah, then the Muslims are the most worthy nation of this.
When the Muslims conquered Palestine and drove out the Romans, Palestine and Jerusalem returned to Islaam, the religion of all the Prophets peace be upon them. Therefore, the call to a historical right to Palestine cannot be raised against the Islamic Ummah that believes in all the Prophets of Allah (peace and blessings be upon them) – and we make no distinction between them.
(v) The removal of these governments is an obligation upon us, and a necessary step to free the Ummah, to make the Shariah the supreme law and to regain Palestine. And our fight against these governments is not separate from out fight against you.
Yet the article paints it as a mere territorial dispute, and goes far to leave Islam out of it. Is it really true to state that "Islamic extremists believe different things from most Muslims"? (Sure, most Muslims are not violent, but that does not necessarily speak to their beliefs). I am not sure – and I don't think Newsela are either.
This is yet another example of very irresponsible conduct on the part of a school we have seen these last few months – conduct that can lead to young minds being poisoned against Jews.