Local Residents File Lawsuit Against Mass. School System for Anti-Semitic Curriculum

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March 19, 2019

Taxpayers in Newton, Mass. have filed a lawsuit accusing the Newton School Committee, Superintendent of Schools David Fleishman, Newton high school principals, and multiple high school history teachers of indoctrinating students with curriculum laced with anti-Semitism and bigotry against Israel.

Over the course of the last several months, Americans for Peace and Tolerance, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization focused on "promoting peaceful coexistence in an ethnically diverse America," has been investigating anti-Semitic rhetoric in the curriculum of Newton schools and is now using the information as foundation for the taxpayer's lawsuit.

"We have identified precisely what is being taught and who is responsible. Now, our investigation has become the basis for a taxpayer suit based on the education and civil rights laws of Massachusetts," APT wrote in an email. "We accomplished this through perseverance in the face of intimidation from the teachers’ union, successful appeals against the schools’ obstruction of the investigation with the MA Secretary of State, and, most importantly, with your generous support."

The 469-page legal complaint, filed last week, "details the lengthy history of Newton residents’ efforts to have NPS address and correct the factually flawed teaching," according to the group.

Some of the evidence described in the complaint goes to support their complaint that students were being taught Jews and Christians deliberately forged their holy texts to contradict the Muslim Qur’an. Another textbook instructed that Zionism has "little connection" to Jewish history in "Palestine." Students were also taught Jews took advantage of the Holocaust to gain sympathy for Zionism at the expense of "Arab plight," and Israelis were compared to Nazis amid claims they've treated Palestinians like Nazis historically treated Jews.

"In looking for the sources of the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel bigotry in the Newton curriculum, we discovered a few bad apple teachers who view their teaching positions as giving them license to promote their personal political agendas," APT Executive Director Ilya Feoktistov said. "We are also looking closely at a common pattern with these politicized teachers — most, if not all, have taken professional development courses developed with foreign funding by the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia."

"Newton history teachers and school administrators must think either that anti-discrimination laws do not apply to them, or that these laws do not protect their Jewish and Israeli students," APT President Charles Jacobs said.

"There is no academic freedom to brainwash students with fake history and pro-Arab or anti-Semitic propaganda that is, these days, alarmingly too common on the left in America," Jacobs continued.

Karen Hurvitz, who is representing the taxpayers in the lawsuit, said her clients are not seeking money damages, despite the pain they feel as a result of students being taught materials that slander Israel and Jews.

"This is the type of teaching that leads to anti-Semitism — and it has," Hurvitz said. "The taxpayers here are merely asking NPS to perform their duties and obey the law, which requires that their curriculum encourage respect for all people. Education should be based on fact, not on stereotypes and propaganda."