A Common Core-approved workshop on the Middle East conflict titled “Whose Jerusalem?” has sparked controversy among critics who charge that the program portrays Israel and America in a negative light while cultivating sympathy for terrorist group Hamas.
The “Whose Jerusalem?” curriculum was created by Boston University professor Carl Hobert, who describes the goal of his program as “educational civil disobedience, where students are learning about the Middle East and they’re putting pressure on our government to create a Palestinian state.” It has already been used in numerous high schools and has now been approved as part of the Common Core national curriculum.
Students participating in the program are assigned to portray various parties to the Middle East conflict including Arab, Israeli and American leaders, and to negotiate an agreement on how to divide Jerusalem.
Describing how he uses the program to influence students’ thinking, Hobart explains, “When a student goes, 'I am devoutly Jewish and I’ve got family members in Israel. I would like to be a member of Likud Party.' Guess what we make that student? A member of Hamas.”
A video expose released by the pro-Israel organization Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT), describes how Hobart’s program deliberately misleads students by “falsely claiming that Fatah and Hamas are comparable to the major political parties in democratic Israel… they learn that Hamas and Fatah are two thriving Palestinian political parties that have chosen to support change in the Gaza strip and parts of the West Bank by more peaceful means than Intifada.”
The brutal terrorist acts committed by Hamas and Fatah, and the role these Palestinian parties play in the violent repression of their own people, are minimized or omitted entirely, as is Hamas’ call for the slaughter of all Jews.
Nor is the program intended to be entirely theoretical. “What they have to do by the end is come up with a letter of recommendation on how to bring more effective peace to the Middle East,” Hobart explains. “We mail it to George Mitchell, our special envoy to the Middle East, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Barack Obama.”