Parents in Tennessee are outraged over a high school textbook they say contains biased, anti-Israel content.
In particular, the book, “The Cultural Landscape: An Introduction to Human Geography,” contains the question, “If a Palestinian suicide bomber kills several dozen Israeli teenagers in a Jerusalem restaurant, is that an act of terrorism or wartime retaliation against Israeli government policies and army actions?”
It also describes Hamas and Hezbollah — which the United States considers terrorist groups — as “political parties,” according to Nashville’s WKRN-TV.
“It smells of anti-Semitism to me. It opened the door to legitimizing terror,” parent Hugh Nemets told WKRN. He was one of 10 Williamson County parents who complained about the book at a school board meeting last week.
The book is a college-level text used in Advanced Placement classes and was selected by the school district from a list of Tennessee Department of Education-approved titles.
Williamson County Schools Assistant Superintendent Tim Gaddis told The Tennessean that the suicide bomber question was taken out of context, but that it’s meant to get students to think critically.
“Sometimes folks disagree on what is political violence,” Gaddis told the newspaper. “Israelis would have their interpretation and Palestinians their interpretation. It does not draw positions at all.”
Julie West, whose son is a freshman in the school district, said Wednesday on Fox News that she was alerted to the book’s content when her son came home in November and asked, “Who does Israel belong to?” She said he was taught that Palestine is a nation that has been denied its state by Great Britain and the Jews.
West said the school district initially defended the text, then told her she could fill out a formal complaint but that it “wouldn’t do any good” because the district had already determined they were keeping the book.
Gaddis told The Tennessean the book has been used for the last three years and is set to be replaced with another book or edition for the 2014-2015 school year. West said the district has gone back and forth with parents about whether to axe it.
Laurie Cardoza-Moore, president of pro-Israel group Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, told The Tennessean the book represents a new wave of anti-Semitism where biased information is woven into students’ thinking to try to de-ligitimize the Jewish state.
Speaking at last week’s school board meeting, she compared the subtle references in the book to the type of propaganda seen in Nazi Germany.
“The Holocaust did not happen in a vacuum. This type of anti-Semitism has no place and shouldn’t be taught to our future leaders,” Cardoza-Moore said.