At what point do you start teaching kids the complicated geopolitics of the Middle East and how much detail on each side do you give? That is the question brought up today by public school parent Dana Milstein, whose 10-year-old recently came home from school with what Milstein found to be an alarming, propagandist "fact sheet" on Israel. Now she's taking her concerns to the public—and she has some points.
So what exactly is so troublesome about this fact sheet, which Milstein's daughter brought home from her social studies class?
The fact sheet praises the Jewish religion, but not Islam, and says the land that was to become Israel was barren before Jewish settlers arrived there, not mentioning the settlements of Arabs. It says that the countries surrounding Israel “seek to destroy Israel and the Jewish people.”
And also? It reportedly says that the Arab countries around Israel "do not want peace," without mentioning any of the peace treaties between Israel and its neighbors. All of which has Milstein seeing red. "These kids look to their teachers to give them truth," she said. "Not opinions that are going to lead to hatred of other people."
Making the situation all the more New York-y is the fact that not only is the teacher who wrote the fact sheet, Gary Gelber, Jewish but so is Milstein's daughter. According to the Times SchoolBook blog, the "family are both Arab and Jewish, of Moroccan descent."
And Milstein isn't taking the affront to her child's learning lying down! She's reported the matter to the principal (who told the Grey Lady, "We knew going into it that it is a touchy subject. The parent is upset, and rightfully so. I understand her concern."), the Department of Education’s Office of Equal Opportunity, the Arab-American Association of New York and, of course, the press.
When we called the school in the question—P.S. 101 School in the Gardens in Forest Hills—nobody was available for comment as it was well past the end of the school day. But while we're on the topic, Rogers and Hammerstein already nailed it: