Society

Tennessee Parents Upset Over 'Pro-Palestinian' High School Text Book

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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Some parents in Williamson County, Tenn., are calling for the removal of a high school text book they believe is biased against Israel.

The text book is taught in a college-level elective course called Human Geography and available to students in Williamson County public schools, which also offer an elective course on the Bible.

Parents are against the kinds of questions it encourages teenagers to ask. In “The Cultural Landscape: An Introduction to Human Geography,” author James Rubenstein writes, "…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?"

Julie West, mother of a 15-year-old at Franklin High School in Franklin, Tenn., said the question is pro-Palestinian.

"We're living in a time where people are saying, 'How could anyone put a bomb outside a restaurant or on a street intending to kill innocent people?'" West said. "And we ask ourselves that, when at the same time our children are being taught from a curriculum that says that might be okay, or at least it might be okay if those kids are Jewish."

Rubenstein said that the question was taken out of context, and that the rest of the introduction discusses both Israeli and Palestinian views of the issue.

In an email to Fox News, Rebenstein explained why such questions are important to understanding terrorism.

"For example, we want to know why the Tsarnaev brothers bombed the Boston Marathon," Rubenstein writes in the email. "Understanding why they did it doesn't mean we are justifying what they did. It's the same thing with other world conflicts and terrorist acts."

Laurie Cardoza-Moore, head of the pro-Israel group Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, says the book is anti-Semitic. She this passage from the book: "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?"

Cardoza-Moore says the book aims to delegitimize the right of the Jewish people to the Holy Land.

Tim Gaddis, assistant county school superintendent, argued that the text is not biased. He says the college-level book gives equal weight to competing argument and does not take any position.

The Williamson county school system has a formal process in which parents can write to request a formal review of a text book by a committee of representing parents, administrators, teachers, and curriculum experts. School officials have not received any formal request yet on this particular book.

"I think it's a slippery slope to go down if we start banning books because people take opposing views," said county school superintendent Mike Looney. "I think the critical question to answer is: Does the book create an opportunity for students to engage in deep dialogue about important issues in the world? And I think that it does that in the context of geography."

Sources: Fox News, UPI