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Which Organization Runs Schools That Use Materials That:
  • [Describe] Zionism as "a racist ideology and political movement that appeared in the second half of the nineteenth century" and inform[] readers that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion were "a group of confidential resolutions adopted by the [Basel Zionist] Congress ... the goal of which is world domination."

  • [P]rovide Middle Esat maps with no] mention of Israel.

  • [Give] students this assignment: "Let us research and write [an essay] about one of the Palestinian martyr leaders [suicide bombers]."

The answer, Michael Krauss and Peter Pham report, is the United Nations, specifically the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. In response to some follow-up questions from me, Michael Krauss further reports:

The schools are operated directly by UNRWA — it is a huge operation, involving over 600 primary, elementary, and secondary schools with over 16,000 teachers ... and nearly half a million students.

The passages cited in are articles are all from textbooks currently in use. Incidentally, the UNRWA's official dodge when confronted with this is "The curriculum in the Agency's schools is determined by the education authorities in the locations where it operates. For historical reasons UNRWA schools followed the Jordanian curriculum in the West Bank and the Egyptian curriculum in the Gaza Strip and this practice continued under the Israeli control of those areas between 1967 and 1994. Since 1994 the Palestinian Authority has progressively been replacing the old Jordanian and Egyptian textbooks as new PA-produced textbooks become available."

That is to say, UNRWA doesn't control content, it just buys anything the PA sells — how reassuring.... If that's a "standard," with Hamas now elected, by this time next year we'll be wishing for the current Fatah textbooks.

Steve:
Kind of ironic that this post follows so soon after one criticizing Arizona for attempting to control the curriculum at state universities. We don't blame the State of California if Prof. Volokh decides to teach something radical, but it's always fun to scapegoat the UN.
2.17.2006 7:56pm
Abdul (mail):
The silver lining on this cloud? UNRWA textbooks can get you out of jury duty.
2.17.2006 8:00pm
Been There, Done That:
If Professor Volokh advocated genocide at UCLA, we'd hope the State of California would do something about it.

Academic freedom protects a broad array of thought and expression. But it must be ACADEMIC thought and expression.

Please don't go all Camus on us. The anti-semitic stuff is clearly over the line.
2.17.2006 8:03pm
FXKLM:
There's a big difference between academic freedom in higher education and academic freedom is elementary schools. College professors are largely researchers. They're the top experts in their fields and if they're to develop knowledge in their field, they need to be able to do so without political interference. The same cannot be reasonably said of elementary schoolteachers. More importantly, we expect that college students should be able to critically evaluate what they're told by their professors. I can think of no reason why the academic freedom of teachers in elementary schools deserves any protection.
2.17.2006 8:10pm
Justin (mail):
I tend to agree with others that, while I am not the moderator, this post seems out of line.

Sort of like blaming the United States for supporting white supremicist militias because some militamen are on welfare.
2.17.2006 8:41pm
Kieran Jadiker-Smith (mail):
All those news stories about schools using outdated textbooks speculating about the possibility of men landing in the Moon don't seem so troubling anymore.
2.17.2006 8:54pm
Kovarsky (mail):
What amazes me is how people can be so (rightfully) outraged about this and be so ambivalent about intelligent design. While I don't want to equate the two morally, they do share a blind insubordination to the orthodox theories that underlie their respective academic disciplines (history and science).
2.17.2006 9:06pm
FXKLM:
Justin: Who are these "others" that you agree with? There is only one other comment in this thread that disagrees with Eugene and I certainly don't think Steve's comment suggests that he thinks a moderator should have kept this post out. You may not be the only one to disagree with Eugene, but you seem to be alone in your belief that this post is "out of line."
2.17.2006 9:15pm
Humble Law Student:
Steve,

Maybe it is because the UN makes it so easy? As well, the UN has a long history of supporting anti-Semetic causes, both explicitly and implicitly. Maybe if they made an attempt at being evenhanded, they wouldn't be so vulnerable to such charges.
2.17.2006 9:21pm
John Jenkins (mail):
Kind of ironic that this post follows so soon after one criticizing Arizona for attempting to control the curriculum at state universities. We don't blame the State of California if Prof. Volokh decides to teach something radical, but it's always fun to scapegoat the UN.

Actually, that's just not true. Ask the people in the state government of Colorado how much flak THEY got over the professor who called the victims of 9/11 "little Eichmann's"

You're also not doing a very fair comparison. If the California state board of education decided to mandate teaching in California schools that there was no Israel, people would almost certainly complain.

If one professor on a campus somewhere teaches the same thing, some much smaller number of people would complain, but it's going to be largely irrelevant because people can easily avoid taking classes from such a person should they so desire. I'd bet you can find 50 professors on college campuses in the UC system that teach something even worse than this (deconstructionism comes to mind. j/k).

In short. No, it's not ironic at all. Further, no one is scapegoating the U.N. because the U.N. has in fact done exactly what it's accused of. Since a scapegoat is one who is made to bear the blame of others, the label does not fit.
2.17.2006 9:23pm
NickM (mail) (www):
What will really be the difference between Fatah-produced textbooks and Hamas-produced textbooks?

Nick
2.17.2006 9:48pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
This IS the UN, after all, and the Israelis are part of Western civilization. Finding anti-Western views at the UN is no more surprising than finding VD in a cathouse. Except that the cathouse doesn't cost you several billion, and the inhabitants are probably more honest.

Actually, I think the problem with the UN isn't so much its corruption as its complete irrelevance. It approves or disapproves this or that. Who cares? It dispatches a peacekeeping force. One can only hope they can keep from getting themselves killed. As their switchboard message says, "If this is an emergency, dial the USA." In the 60s, it at least gave a forum where the US and USSR could gripe at each other and pretend someone was listening. Today, not even that. If the US and Russia want to talk, they will, and the delegation from the Maldive Islands will kindly leave us alone.

Couldn't we turn the building into something useful, like a junkie halfway house?
2.17.2006 10:02pm
Kovarsky (mail):
I am playing a little bit of devils advocate here.

I think some people are missing the point of the UN's position - it isn't that this is an acceptable academic theory; it is that they are not going to withhold educational funds from the PA on the grounds of what the books teach.

This discussion over the analogy to higher education presumes that we are talking about the authority of the entities managing curricula over its teachers. That is not the situation here. The PA determines the curriculum, not the UN.

I should say that find this sort of curriculum dishonest and reprehensible. I do not, however, know that it makes sense for the UN to start selectively editing curricula. I'm hestitant to use slippery slope arguments, but where does it stop? Is there a sensible line? I can only imagine the sort of havoc this would create in Africa, where institutional authority is in a constant state of flux.
2.17.2006 10:04pm
Kovarsky (mail):
It's nice to bash the UN, and it is certainly corrupt. I'm skeptical that international law even exists beyond the extent that its content is expressly adopted by a government (ratification of a treaty, etc.) - at which point it is the law of the sovereign doing the ratifying, not the international community itself.

That being said, I think the UN's irrelevance is not an inherent trait, but a function of it's corruption and related incompetence. The UN runs this town as long as people think it does, and when they stop thinking it, the UN stops running it. The way to make the UN an effective and legitimate expression of international will is not to bash it, but to purge the corruption and to try to avoid strident subversion of it. I am skeptical that America can sustain itself if it cannot in association with an international body that appears to be independent of american self interest.
2.17.2006 10:16pm
Antonelli:
With all due respect, the argument by the "devil's advocate" is slightly flawed. It might be arguably valid if the UNRWA merely funded schools run by the PA which had objectionable criteria. The problem is, as Professors Pham and Krauss point out in their article and in the latter's subsequent communication with Professor Volokh, we're talking about schools directly owned and administered by the UN. The UN is under no obligation to adopt the PA's flawed curriculum and textbooks within the UNRWA network of schools, but nonetheless made an explicit choice to do so, thereby implicitly endorsing the anti-Semitic content.
2.17.2006 10:19pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Antonelli,

I'm sorry, there is no "implicit endorsement of anti-Semitic content." There is certainly guilt to be laid at the UN's doorstep for effecting the teaching of such content, and I there are more than a few UN participants that are anti-semitic, but the UN's position - at least on its face - seems to derive from a neutrally applicable principle. It would be far more persuasive were someone to successfully cite an instance where the UN did shut it down in response a curricular disagreement.

And frankly, I don't think people are considering the alternative - which is exposure to identical ideas on the street - without any other education. It's not as though these students would be less indoctrinated with hatred on the streets.

And I understand that the UN administers these schools, but it quite plainly says that they don't control the curriculum. Look, this is very unpleasant - I'm just not convinced Americans successfully identify the menu of institutional options (or lack thereof) over there.
2.17.2006 10:29pm
Antonelli:
Kovarsky:

Between 1967 and 1994, UNRWA refused adopt any curriculum or texts from Israeli sources - although this might have helped its students better integrate into the political economy that their territories were de facto connected with - and steadfastly continued running schools in Gaza according to Egyptian standards and those in the West Bank according to Jordanian standards, even after the late King Hussein gave up all claims of responsibility for the West Bank. The argument advanced by official UNRWA spokespeople was that any use of Israeli-endorsed materials would demonostrate a bias when the "final status" had yet to be negotiated.

From 1994 until today, UNRWA has uncritically adopted PA standards, although "final status" talks are even more remote now than ever before and nothing legally obliged them to do so. Incidentally, there are many schools in the territories, generally run by Christian and other religious groups, which do not follow the PA curricular standards.

Again, the choice was a political choice by the succession of UNRWA commissioners-general.
2.17.2006 10:40pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Antonelli -

I saw this hinted at in the passage above.

I think that makes a much stronger case, but was the denial of the israeli curriculum on the grounds that the UNRWA did not have to conform to the curricular standards of the locality (basically, did it deviate from its stated rule), or (and I think this to be the more likely scenario) did it adjudge the israeli curriculum to be at odds with that of the locality?

The UN's official response says it defers to the "education authorities" in a "locality." However ignorant the principle may be, if the UN needed a proxy for the educational demands of the locality in question, I hardly think they would look to Israel.

My only point here is that I do not yet see evidence that they have acted in violation of their own standard, and that absence of such evidence, it's just a stupid standard - but that's hardly anti-semitic.
2.17.2006 10:49pm
John Jenkins (mail):
Given that UNRWA ONLY runs schools in these areas (UNRWA=United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), even if this is according to policy, why couldn't the policy itself be anti-semtic, at the very least, overtly anti-Israel (which a U.N. agency ought not be, given nominal neutrality, farcical though that may be).
2.17.2006 11:02pm
Kovarsky (mail):
John Jenkins,

I take your point to be, given that the primary issue to be politicized in that region is israel's legitimacy, that the standard is itself anti-semitic.

I think that premise is incorrect. There is a constant power struggle within and between different Islamic factions, and a constant struggle between more secular regions of particular countries and their more religious national governments (and vice versa).

None of that is to say, of course, that the standard isn't the product of anti-israeli (i prefer this term to anti-semitic) animus; it is just to say that this is not necessarily the case from the face of the standard. What is a crucial piece of evidence - evidence I have not yet seen - is that the UN compromised this standard when interests were aligned differently.
2.17.2006 11:12pm
John Jenkins (mail):
My argument is merely that the position "they're just following their standard, not being anti-Semitic" is not necessarily true, given the circumstances (if it were a wider standard, adopted across the globe, that might be dispositive).
2.17.2006 11:16pm
MDJD2B (mail):
None of that is to say, of course, that the standard isn't the product of anti-israeli (i prefer this term to anti-semitic) animus; it is just to say that this is not necessarily the case from the face of the standard. What is a crucial piece of evidence - evidence I have not yet seen - is that the UN compromised this standard when interests were aligned differently.


Whatever you may prefer, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is anti-Jewish, and not anti-Israel. It is a screed about how Jews supposedly run the world to the detriment of non-Jews, and not an apologetic for the elimination of Israel.
2.17.2006 11:22pm
Kovarsky (mail):
MDJD2B

I am aware of what the Protocols of the Elders of Zion say. It is offensive, wrong, hateful. It is also outside the scope of my point.

I am not denying that the underlying subject matter is hateful. I am merely pointing out that you cannot necessarily infer a prejudice in the rule from the prejudice in the underlying subject matter. Something more is needed, such as proof that the standard was differentially enforced with respect to "localities."
2.17.2006 11:32pm
Kovarsky (mail):
John,

I think we are in agreement. My point from the beginning was just that you would need to cite some sort of differential application of the locality standard to make a stronger case for the anti-semitic/jewish/israeli motivation behind it.
2.17.2006 11:39pm
c.f.w. (mail):
And what should the text books provide?

That the Zionists had every right to do all they have done since the Balfour Declaration?

Perhaps a PC text would draw an analogy to the colonials ultimately replacing the native americans in North America?

In discussing what to teach, one must avoid both extremes; avoid the nuts from the Islam side without giving the Zionists a free pass.
2.18.2006 8:45am
John Jenkins (mail):
Well, c.f.w., given that most of the nations in the world have recognized Israel as an independent state (and all of the important ones do), we can start with maps that show its existence and move upward from there, how's that?

Kovarsky, I recognize that, but the fact that the agency exists only to serve this population makes that much more problematic.
2.18.2006 9:48am
Strophyx (mail):
One is tempted to wonder whether similar justifications and excuses whould be made for the UN's choice of curricula and educational materials if they included "creation science".
2.18.2006 10:32am
Plotter:
The whole textbook issue has a few more shades of grey... read Open Letter To Hillary Clinton e.g. " Israel "allowed the offensive Jordanian books to be used in the East Jerusalem schools but barred the innocuous PA-authored books, probably fearful that use of the PA books would be an implicit recognition of sovereignty."
2.18.2006 10:39am
Bottomfish (mail):
"The curriculum in the Agency's schools is determined by the education authorities in the locations where it operates."

This is the "neutral principle." I would be interested in seeing a similar principle applied to the UN's peacekeeping operations. The actions of the peacekeepers would be determined by the authorities in the locations where they operated. If Faction X is in control in one city, the peacekeepers would help Faction X; if Faction Y is in control in an adjacent city, they would help Faction Y. No doubt the peacekeepers would end up fighting each other.
2.18.2006 10:48am
pst314 (mail):
Kovarsky: Would the UN consent to fund the writing and publication of textbooks that taught that blacks were inferior and ought to be enslaved? Not a chance. Likewise for textbooks that demonized Arabs and advocated their mass-murder. For many years people have reported on widespread anti-Semitism at the UN. The latest book I've seen is "The UN Gang" by Pedro Sanjuan who worked there for many years.
2.18.2006 11:33am
Anderson (mail) (www):
I think some people are missing the point of the UN's position - it isn't that this is an acceptable academic theory; it is that they are not going to withhold educational funds from the PA on the grounds of what the books teach.

Okay, I accept that's the point. It's also wrong. We can't MAKE the Palestinians teach the truth instead of lies. But the UN sure as hell shouldn't be PAYING for it.
2.18.2006 12:13pm
Michael B (mail):
The notional quality of Bottomfish's neutral principle, just a few posts above, is spot on. Misapplied talk of "scapegoating" the UN and "neutrality" is all well and good as long as this can be discussed in some type of abstracted, academic manner. Likewise, the notion the UN avoids complicity is preposterously affected.

The UN is complicit. How to address that complicity is the most basic and central issue which needs to be confronted.

cf. Tom Gross, Matthias Kuntzel
2.18.2006 1:10pm
Kovarsky (mail):
OK,

I think it's a little bizarre that others are the one's accusing me of "abstracting" when I've pointed out that the realeconomik of the matter is that cutting off funding for these schools leaves these kids out on the street to be indoctrinated with things far more pernicious than the denial of israeli statehood. As a consequence, I hardly think I'm the one being a naive western academic.

On several occasions I've made very specific the type of information that would confirm EV's suspicion - namely, that the "locality neutrality" principle be abandoned in an israeli controlled locality. nobody has furnished any such evidence. moreover, people have supplied evidence quite the contrary - that israel selectively curates its curricula as well and that is tolerated, albeit with far more innocuous material.

Also, this excerpt from above -

Likewise, the notion the UN avoids complicity is preposterously affected.

The UN is complicit. How to address that complicity is the most basic and central issue which needs to be confronted.


Does not constitute a point.
2.18.2006 1:48pm
Kovarsky (mail):
The notional quality of Bottomfish's neutral principle, just a few posts above, is spot on.

First of all, it's not clear what you mean by notional principle. Do you mean the opposite of "relational," or just the more general connotation of "theoretic." In any event, the "spot on" principle bottomfish identifies is:

This is the "neutral principle." I would be interested in seeing a similar principle applied to the UN's peacekeeping operations. The actions of the peacekeepers would be determined by the authorities in the locations where they operated.

That analogy is absurd. There is value in imperfect education. The imperfect educational benefits are evaluated against their costs. No rational person performing a similar cost benefit analysis would seek to make that analogy. The desirability of these principles in different contexts stand and fall on the benefits they achieve in practice. I mean Michael B and bottomfish, I can play this silly game too. So let's take your argument and play the reductio ad absurdum game - deny UN funding to infrastructure based on any flaws with the entities that control it? How well does that principle work prophylactically?

Also, and one more time, Michael B:

Misapplied talk of "scapegoating" the UN and "neutrality" is all well and good as long as this can be discussed in some type of abstracted, academic manner.

Do you even read my posts before you respond to some argument that I haven't even made? This is what I actually wrote with respect to UN responsibility:

It's nice to bash the UN, and it is certainly corrupt. I'm skeptical that international law even exists beyond the extent that its content is expressly adopted by a government (ratification of a treaty, etc.) - at which point it is the law of the sovereign doing the ratifying, not the international community itself.

That being said, I think the UN's irrelevance is not an inherent trait, but a function of it's corruption and related incompetence. The UN runs this town as long as people think it does, and when they stop thinking it, the UN stops running it. The way to make the UN an effective and legitimate expression of international will is not to bash it, but to purge the corruption and to try to avoid strident subversion of it. I am skeptical that America can sustain itself if it cannot in association with an international body that appears to be independent of american self interest.
2.18.2006 2:04pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I think it's a little bizarre that others are the one's accusing me of "abstracting" when I've pointed out that the realeconomik of the matter is that cutting off funding for these schools leaves these kids out on the street to be indoctrinated with things far more pernicious than the denial of israeli statehood. As a consequence, I hardly think I'm the one being a naive western academic.
Except that, as has been pointed out already in this thread, this is not an issue of "funding." The UN runs the schools. The question is what the UN chooses to teach. It's not a situation where the UN is merely giving money to the PLO to do what it wishes with the funds. So the schools are going to be receiving funding no matter what.

So the only way the kids would be "out on the street" is if the notion of any sort of neutral (let alone) positive approach to Israel is so anathema to Palestinians that they would rather keep their kids out of school entirely than let their kids be exposed to this material. And if they're so far gone that that's the case, then there's nothing more "pernicious" out there.
2.18.2006 3:49pm
Bottomfish (mail):
Kovarsky says my analogy is absurd because "there is value in imperfect education. The imperfect educational benefits are evaluated against their costs." The entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict begins with the two peoples' attitudes toward each other, based on interpretations of history. Obviously. I wonder what value there can be in education that furthers the attitudes behind the conflict, in addition to being wrong on the facts. The education is not merely imperfect. It is the negation of all that rhetoric about beating swords into plowshares and not making war any more. (Oh, I forgot -- the rhetoric is from an obviously biased source. But why should the UN get involved in education at all if this is the best it can do?)
2.18.2006 4:16pm
Kovarsky (mail):
David,

My remark above was in no way premised on a distinction between funding and running the schools. If you'd read the posts as thoroughly as your remark suggests, you would have also noticed that your point has already been made an i have acknowledged it.

Moreover, just because the UN "runs" the schools does not mean that it "chooses" to teach anything. That is, of course, precisely the question we are discussing here. Sure, along some continuum, the UN is "choosing" the curriculum by providing teachers and classrooms in addition to money, but once you acknowledge that you are on a spectrum, you aren't really proving anything other than the fact that there's "more" choice. You don't disprove the existence of "choice" with a funded-only program nor do you prove that the extra amount of "choice" involved with a funded-and-bricks program crosses a threshold into unacceptability.

But I don't even want to get into that, becaues I dispute your premise. My point, the ENTIRE TIME, has been that you cannot say in any meaningful way that the UN is "choosing" this curriculum unless you identify an instance where it has deviated from its stated rule that is - quite clearly - on its face a procedural, not a substantive rule. Not one person has provided one iota of evidence to that effect and, as I've repeatedly noted, the only evidence anybody has posted here confirms that equal deference applies to the local officials in Jewish-controlled localities.

Personally, I suspect the program comes from a bad place too. But it's a suspicion, and there's nothing in the data thus far that confirms it.

And your last point:

So the only way the kids would be "out on the street" is if the notion of any sort of neutral (let alone) positive approach to Israel is so anathema to Palestinians that they would rather keep their kids out of school entirely than let their kids be exposed to this material. And if they're so far gone that that's the case, then there's nothing more "pernicious" out there.

Specifically, your last sentence...

And if they're so far gone that that's the case, then there's nothing more "pernicious" out there.

Does not deny the fact that many Palestinian families would in fact keep their kids out of school (whether that judgment was rational or not), and seems to be a more polite way of saying "if they're gonna be that way, screw 'em." Well, I respectfully disagree with that approach.
2.18.2006 4:29pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Bottomfish,

Your post about promoting bad values sounds all nice and stuff, but I haven't denied that the education promotes some dangerous ideas that undermine the peace process and that they promote hatred.

Instead, I am asking "as compared to what?" Well, I believe that having those shitty ideas, taught along some good ones in a classroom, ultimately does more good for the peace process than having these kids out on the streets learning the more violent versions of those shitty ideas there, where they are also now illiterate and completely subject to the vagaries more dangerous institutions.

Of course there is a third option - abandon the locality rule and install a requirement of objective history. That would be preferable to everybody. It is, however, highly unlikely that such a move could be pulled off at this point without having the parents pull the kids out of school. At least that is my understanding of the argument - I haven't seen the stats. You would also be able to build a strong case of anti-Jewish animus if the empirics indicated that the kids would stay in school were the curriculum modified. But again, not a single person on the thread has presented a shred of evidence.

Look, I can't underscore how despicable I find all of this stuff. I'm a Jew for goodness sake. But if my choice is between some kid sitting in a class learning that israel is not a legitimate state and that same kid learning that same stuff but also strapping 40 lbs of TNT to his chest and getting on a Tel Aviv bus, no matter how sophie the choice, in good conscious I have to stomach the former.
2.18.2006 4:42pm
Kovarsky (mail):
"in good conscience."
2.18.2006 4:43pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
Thanks, Eugene. I have a lot more on terrorist activities at UNRWA camps in my post here.

Kevin L. Connors, Editor
The Daily Brief
2.18.2006 4:56pm
Michael B (mail):
Kovarsky,

No one said "screw 'em," the indication was not to participate in the funding of "education" and some of its more pernicious and prominent roots, such as are briefly noted here. Forwarding eliminationist and genocidal themes within their "educational program" does not simply constitute an "imperfect" education, it constitutes a fundamentally malignant program. (For a telling contrast, try to imagine the UN or the US helping to fund similar programs in territorial disputes involving Tibet/China, Taiwan/China, Tamil/Sri Lanka, Shining Path/Peru, etc., none of which seek eliminationist or genocidal programs.)

Too, I wasn't even responding specifically or necessarily to you, was addressing a principle, not a person, I most pointedly was not inpugning your motives. What was said is applicable to the principle of supposed "neutrality" in situations like this where "neutrality" reflects a fundamental and thorough-going cooptation, thus needs to be redressed, not further encouraged. This is one reason it helps to have someone like John Bolton at the UN.
2.18.2006 5:47pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Michael B,

The heart of your argument is that it is "fundamentally malignant," which is not an argument.

Afterall, it is not "fundamentally malignant" if it is better than the situation would be without it. I am not going to continue to address arguments that the program is "fundamentally," "inherently," "undeniably," "structurally," or "unmistakeably" bad until someone makes an effort to - this is now the tenth time i've made this request - explain why it is better than the alternative.

And, for the record, these are the 3 items that Prof. Volokh indicates are taught:

[Describe] Zionism as "a racist ideology and political movement that appeared in the second half of the nineteenth century" and inform[] readers that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion were "a group of confidential resolutions adopted by the [Basel Zionist] Congress ... the goal of which is world domination."

[P]rovide Middle Esat maps with no] mention of Israel.

[Give] students this assignment: "Let us research and write [an essay] about one of the Palestinian martyr leaders [suicide bombers]."


none of those is genocide. they're all pretty crappy, but they're not genocide. they are: (1) egregious historical misrepresentations and (2) shameless, indefensible celebration of terrorist tactics in order to secure palestinian liberation. this is still pretty horrible stuff, but i'm not going to be rhetorically bullied by subtly massaged language.
2.18.2006 6:03pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Michael B,

Let me be clear, I think this standard is completely suspect- based in part on everything I know about the organization. All I'm looking for is a piece of evidence beyond the programs "intrinsic" wrongness. That evidence would take two forms:

(1) The assumption that students would not remain in the schools were the curriculum to be adjusted for anti-israeli bias is flawed.

(2) The standard is enforced depending on whose "locality" it is.

All I am doing is posing an evidentiary question. If one of those two things is not advanced, you can't necessarily infer the malign intent behind the program.
2.18.2006 6:18pm
edwin (mail):
re Plotter's comment:
http://volokh.com/posts/1140223727.shtml#66245

Well Plotter, I read your link. What do you think about the complete lack of response?

Let me try:

1. How old are these books?
2. Where did they come from?
3. Who has been responsible for administrating education in occupied Palestine and when?
4. Are there political objections to changing the books, and if so what are the political objections and who is making them?
5. Are these books really in use right now?
6. If not what about the books that are currently in use? Where did the current books come from?
7. What are the political advantages of bringing this issue up now?

Look at question 3 and question 1 in particular.
2.18.2006 8:16pm
minnie:
Justin is not alone in his opinion on this matter, as I agree with him completely.

Eugene seems to think that his opinion on the Protocol of the Elders of Zion is the definite one. As I doubt he was there when it was written, and therefore is no more an authority on its origins or purpose than anyone else, his is just another opinion.

People are still debating who wrote Shakespeare. Who cares? His words stand on their own. So does the Protocol of the Elders of Zion, regardless of who wrote it. It's a historical document of unknown origin, and should hardly be barred from study. In fact, I recommend it, as I have stated before, as I think it is one of the most cunning diatribes about how to get and maintain political power as has ever been written. Far broader in scope than Machievelli's The Prince, which is part of most college courses.

The more people try to bully others into repudiating everything that they claim is anti-semitic, the more I resist that bullying.
2.18.2006 10:17pm
minnie:
Zionism as "a racist ideology and political movement

Wait. It's not? As many of my friends and associates are Zionists, I can tell you that charming as most of them are, I have never in my life met a more clannish group of people. Each and every action, idea, event, and activity is evaluated first by its effect on that close knit, exclusionary group of people.

I would say that a religious group which is exclusionary, which judges others by the extent to which they are members of that same group, is racist. Isn't it? Racism is judging someone by the group to which they belong by birth, rather than as an individual.

Is someone saying Zionists do not do that? Must be a different group of Zionists than my own circle of Zionists friends and associates.
2.18.2006 10:25pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Minnie,

I think that what is at issue here is the definition of Zionism. You may be right as to your point about those you categorize as Zionists, but what is implied in the cited instances is that Zionists is a code word for Jews, primarily, though not exclusively, those in Israel. When the Arab press talks about Zionists, it isn't limiting the term to those clannish group of people that you are, but rather, they are talking about all Jewish Israelis, and, often, of Jews in general.
2.19.2006 10:09am
minnie:
Bruce,

They are talking about reform Jews? I never heard that before, and until you said that Zionist is a code word for Jews, I never heard that before either.

When I asked a few of my reform Jewish friends today, they said in all their years, they never referred to other Jews, or were referred to themselves, as Zionists.

They thought, as I have thought, that Zionist refers to a subset of fairly militant, orthodox Israelis and some orthodox communities, such as in NYC, which keep pretty much to themselves and do not work, play, or mingle with others outside the sect and feel more of an allegiance to Israel than to the United States.
2.20.2006 12:08am
David M. Nieporent (www):
My remark above was in no way premised on a distinction between funding and running the schools.
That's my point: there's a significant difference between those scenarios, and your remark, which I quoted, fails to acknowledge that difference. Your remark argued that the alternative to what the UN is doing now is "cutting off funding for these schools." That would make sense, if the PLO were running the schools, and the UN's role was limited to the mere funnelling of money to them. The only recourse the UN would have would be to cut funding. But since the UN runs the schools, the alternative to the status quo is not "cutting off funding," but rather changing the curriculum.

Moreover, just because the UN "runs" the schools does not mean that it "chooses" to teach anything.
Yes, it does. That the UN purports -- and do we really need to feign naivete here? -- to utilize a neutral principle does not mean it isn't making that choice. Even if that justification were a truthful one, it would merely explain the mechanism by which they made the choice, not whether they made the choice. There's no law requiring them to use that principle; they're choosing to use it.

Does not deny the fact that many Palestinian families would in fact keep their kids out of school (whether that judgment was rational or not), and seems to be a more polite way of saying "if they're gonna be that way, screw 'em." Well, I respectfully disagree with that approach.
That is not at all what I am saying. (Nor, incidentally, did I concede the validity of the alleged "fact" that Palestinians would keep their kids out of school.) Your argument is premised on the theory that if these schools are closed, the students will be "on the street" being "indoctrinated with things far more pernicious." I am saying that if they are being raised by people who would rather their students not learn at all than get a neutral education, then we don't have to worry about them being "indoctrinated with things far more pernicious," because that ship has already sailed. In other words, we're already at the worst case scenario, so we don't have to worry about a change in UN policy making matters worse.
2.20.2006 12:24pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Does anybody else here think Minnie is playing with us? Compare:
They thought, as I have thought, that Zionist refers to a subset of fairly militant, orthodox Israelis and some orthodox communities, such as in NYC, which keep pretty much to themselves and do not work, play, or mingle with others outside the sect and feel more of an allegiance to Israel than to the United States.
with
As many of my friends and associates are Zionists,
Apparently Minnie -- who pretty clearly doesn't define herself as Zionist -- has "many" Zionist friends and associates, even though they "keep pretty much to themselves and do not work, play, or mingle with others outside the sect."

Combine that with her comments about Eugene's "opinion" about the Protocols...
2.20.2006 12:31pm
Michael B (mail):
"The heart of your argument is that it is 'fundamentally malignant,' which is not an argument." Kovarsky

No. That's certainly a conclusion being forwarded but the heart of the argument is the evidence forwarded in support of that statement, including the links. (Also, in terms of rhetoric, your own summary statement and general dismissiveness is itself a rhetorical ploy, not a substantive argument.)

Firstly, I didn't say I was forwarding some type of syllogism or purely deductive logic. I forwarded a statement and additionally referenced Tom Gross's reportage and Matthias Kuntzel's well documented writings covering some of the historically relevant background information. So yes, I'm referencing material beyond the three (3) items noted in the original post. After all, this is not taking place in a vacuum.

Secondly, you haven't forwarded an argument yourself, you've simply stated that the alternative, a lack of UN funding for the program, would be worse. But you supply nothing in support of that statement.

Thirdly, as noted, broadening the evidence beyond the three items in the original post is hardly inappropriate since the additional evidence is entirely relevant to this topic, though it's often been widely suppressed and elided by the Western press (e.g., Tom Gross's note at the end of one of the links already provided, this one).

Fourthly, while you address and dismiss the term "genocidal," you are apparently conceding the "eliminationist" term (presumably since the theme of eliminating Israel, in text books and elsewhere, is too obvious and factually founded to simply dismiss). I'm not going to get into a tit-for-tat or nagging argument about genocidal intent, it's obviously too important a topic to trade debating points over. I'll simply emphasize: 1) yes, I'm widening the debate beyond the three items in the original post, 2) the Palestinian situation is taking place within a wider environment in the Middle East, 3) they have been used as political pawns by other Arab/Muslim states and interests, 4) Ahmadinejad's recent statements, 5) the previously referenced historical background provided by Kuntzel's work such as here, here, here and here, 6) the degree to which eliminationist themes might reflect ultimate genocidal interests (debateable, certainly, I'm not saying it isn't, but eliminating an entire country is hardly a benign act), 7) I freely admit that genocidal intent reflects a discernment or judgement about motive in contrast to simple and unalloyed empirical fact, though that's why I've referenced the other, supportive material.

Finally, more extensive evidence on the text book issue per se such as can be found at CMIP, most recently the 2005 report on the PA text books (pdf).

So again, the notion the UN avoids complicity is affected and wrong headed; given the mountain of evidence, such as that supplied above, including the links, your own "alternative" thesis itself needs some proofs. The UN is complicit, which is not to say such is their primary motive or intent, they are a huge and largely compromised political institution and bureaucracy hence motives are highly complex and not at all easy to discern. Regardless of motives, they are complicit in helping to forward eliminationist themes in these text books and in other areas as well. How to address that complicity is the most basic and central issue which needs to be confronted. As previously noted, the US is doing so and we need to hold the UN accountable as well.
2.20.2006 3:17pm