New York schoolchildren shown map without Israel, instead wrote ‘Palestine’

New York schoolchildren shown map without Israel, instead wrote ‘Palestine’

Schoolchildren in New York were shown a map of the world that did not include Israel: instead they wrote ‘Palestine’

Instead of the image of Israel on the map of the “Arab world”, in one of the elementary schools in Brooklyn, “Palestine” appeared. This drew the ire of local politicians, according to the New York Post.

Local politicians have demanded answers after pictures of the controversial Arab World map were released on a classroom wall at PS 261 in Boerum Hill as part of the Arab Cultural Arts program funded by Qatar Foundation International (QFI).

“I am deeply concerned about this issue and we are trying to find out why this map is on public display, whether it was approved by the Department of Education and whether excluding Israel is part of the classroom curriculum,” said Dan Goldman, whose district includes the school.

“Given the shocking rise in anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment in the city and across the country, it is imperative that our public schools teach students accurately and fully about the history and origins of the State of Israel,” the Democratic congressman added.

City Councilman Eric Dinowitz, who heads the Jewish caucus on the City Council, called the map “horrible” and demanded answers. Inna Vernikov, who represents Jewish southern Brooklyn, condemned the map and demanded that educators “tell children the truth.”

On the subject: Persist despite threats: how New Yorkers with Israeli and Palestinian roots feel now

Joseph Potostanik, executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis, meanwhile said that “wiping Israel off the map” is “absurd.” “We need to teach students facts and critical thinking,” he said. “Instead, they are presented with biased political information. They teach hatred.”

Screenshot from the site

Just a map or hidden meaning?

The map was produced by the Arab educational company Ruman. It depicts Islamic landmarks in each of the countries of North Africa and the Middle East.

It is part of a program funded by QFI, the US wing of the Qatar Foundation. Photos show that the map is posted under the heading “Arab World” with labels drawn on each country except Israel, which was labeled “Palestine.”

Department of Education spokesman Nathaniel Steyer said: “Why not? This is a map of the countries where Arabic is spoken.” But in an official statement he changed his mind: “As soon as we became aware of concerns about the card, it was removed. We are committed to creating a welcoming environment in New York City public schools that supports all cultures and communities.”

In the classroom where the map is located, lessons “about the arts and culture of the Arab world” are taught in Arabic by Rita LaHood, a Palestinian-American. She was born in the USA but moved to the Middle East at the age of 7.

QFI funded the program as part of more than $1 million allocated by the DOE over the past four years, according to public records. The foundation gave away approximately $241,000 in 2019 and 2020, $275,000 in 2021 and $513,000 in 2022. Entries for 2023 are not yet available.

“What concerns me most is the fact that it took outside forces to create the conditions in which New York City public school officials finally acted,” said Tova Plaut, early childhood education coordinator for the city’s public schools.

Parents’ reaction

Parents of students had mixed reactions to the card. “You’re in the public school system, and I think you should represent everyone,” the Jewish mom said. Another mother said the school has many students with Arabic backgrounds and defended the map, saying it “only applies to Arabic-speaking countries.”

Plaut strongly disagreed, saying the map reflected the grim reality of the political landscape and the dangerous future for students in American schools. “This was a perfect example of the erasure of Jewish heritage in New York City public schools,” she said. – There is a country called Israel. We don’t have maps in our classrooms that still say USSR.”

Campus Watch reports that QFI funds programs at at least three schools in New York City, including PS261, PS30, and the Global Language Project in New York City.

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