The Jewish Federation of Nashville and a group of outraged parents are calling for a school district to pull a high school textbook they believe promotes bias against Israel.
The book, The Cultural Landscape: An Introduction to Human Geography, is used in Advanced Placement classes in Williamson County, south of Nashville.
A section titled, “Terrorism by Individuals and Organizations,” asks students to ponder the following 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?”
“That is blatantly anti-Semitic,” said Laurie Cardoza-Moore, a parent and president of a pro-Israel group. “We are appalled and shocked that this type of statement would be used in any textbook in the United States let alone our own community.”
Cardoza-Moore said a parent raised concerns after her child came home from school asking about who really owned the land – the Jews or Palestinians?
She said she started reviewing the material and eventually brought her concerns to the school board.
“It is insinuating that these Palestinian suicide bombers have a legitimate right to blow up innocent Israeli teenagers in a Jerusalem restaurant,” she told Fox News. “That is unacceptable.”
But Director of Schools Mike Looney told Fox News he has reviewed the book and understands the concerns people may have.
“As with anything else, it’s extremely dangerous to take anything out of context,” he said. “That question needs to be considered in the context of the paragraph in the section of the book.”
Here’s the entire paragraph:
“Distinguishing terrorism from other acts of political violence can be difficult. For example, 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? Competing arguments are made: Israel’s sympathizers denounce the act as a terrorist threat to the country’s existence, whereas advocates of the Palestinian cause argue that long-standing injustices and Israeli army attacks on ordinary Palestinian civilians provoked the act.”
Looney told Fox News the textbook has been used for a number of years without any complaints. And for the record, he said no one has filed a formal complaint to have the book reviewed.
“We will be glad to take a look at it, but we are not going to throw out the process,” he said. “These are highly intellectual, advanced classes that stretch student’s minds and often focus on debating sensitive cultural issues is not something new.”
He also disputed the notion that the single passage in a nearly 500-page book is anti-Semitic.
“I personally don’t get that perspective from reading that question in context,” he said. “I respect other people’s viewpoints and understand they might read it differently.”
Mark Freedman, executive director of the Jewish Federation, said in a statement that the district needed to remove the book.
“To create moral equivalency between specific acts of terror and legitimate territorial disputes that are political in nature serves to legitimize wanton and premeditated violence against innocent civilian victims,” wrote Jewish Federation executive director Mark Freedman in a statement. “To further allow distorted, unbalanced and prejudicial content to stand as a form of academic inquiry is a perversion of our educational system and a disservice to all the children who learn in that system.”