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Tainted Teachings: Saudi Influence on American Textbooks

Folks, start thinking about home schooling your children. The gates of Dar al Islam, an Islamic enclave in Abiquiu, New Mexico, stands at the center of a network of groups and individuals involved in teaching Islam in the public schools in the United States.

Saudi-backed teaching materials, filled with bias and distortions of Israel, America and Islam, are penetrating American classrooms across the U.S.

A special JTA investigation reveals who creates these materials and how some of America’s most prestigious universities – with the use of federal funds – help disseminate them.

Often bypassing school boards and nudging aside approved curricula, teaching programs funded by Saudi Arabia make their way into elementary and secondary school classrooms.

These teachings enter school systems with the help of a federal program, Title VI of the Higher Education Act, that is now up for renewal.

Saudi influence enters the classrooms in three different ways. The first is through teacher-training seminars that provide teachers with graduate or continuing-education credits.

The second is through the dissemination of supplementary teaching materials designed and distributed with Saudi support. Such materials flood the educational system and are available online.

The third is through school textbooks paid for by taxpayers, some of them vetted by activists with Saudi ties, who advise and influence major textbook companies about the books’ Islamic, Arab, Palestinian, Israeli and Middle Eastern content.

The Muslim publications that your children are reading provide the following:

• Denigrates the Jews’ historical connection to Jerusalem. One passage, describing the Old City, says: “the Jerusalem that most people envisage when they think of the ancient city, is Arab. Surrounding it are ubiquitous high-rises built for Israeli settlers to strengthen Israeli control over the holy city.”

• Suggests that Jews have undue influence on U.S. foreign policy. Referring to Harry Truman’s support of the 1947 United Nations resolution to partition Palestine, separating it into Jewish and Arab states, it says: “Truman’s decision to push the U.N. decision to partition Palestine ended in the creation of Israel. The questions of Jewish lobbying and its impact on Truman’s decision with regard to American recognition — and indeed, the whole question of defining American interests and concerns — is well worth exploring.”

• Suggests that the Koran “synthesizes and perfects earlier revelations,” meaning those ascribed to by Christians and Jews.

• Leaves out any facts and figures about the State of Israel in its country-by-country section, but refers instead only to Palestine.

One of the groups involved in the publication is the Berkeley, Calif.-based Arab World and Islamic Resources, or AWAIR, (www.awaironline.org) founded in 1990 with funding from organizations that include Saudi Aramco, a Saudi government-owned oil company.

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