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VIDEO: Boston Jews divided on Saudi/UAE anti-Israel materials in public schools

Last weekend, we posted on Facebook the background of controversial anti-Semitic vandalism in the Boston suburb of Newton, Massachusetts.  The topic at the core of a heated public meeting convened by Mayor Setti Warren.  A video produced by the team at Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) provided background on the rancorous public meeting in Newton. The Facebook post of the APT video garnered over 60 shares from FB pages across the U.S., Europe and Israel.  It provided documented evidence of the use of Saudi and UAE funded anti-Semitic texts and Arab World Studies notebook laced with pro-Palestinian propaganda materials and maps.  We noted that APT had been in the forefront of uncovering the use of these materials by the Newton public schools since discovery in 2011.  They contended their removal has yet to be independently confirmed. Watch it here:

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Newton, Massachusetts Mayor Setti Warren.

A second FB post contained a Wicked Local Newton report noted the acrimony at the Newton public meeting:

Emotions were running high at a community discussion organized by Mayor Setti Warren Thursday night in response to several incidents of anti-Semitism and racism in the schools, with some in the overflowing audience apparently frustrated with the city’s response to the incidents as well as with the event’s tone.

A panel of speakers, including the mayor, a civil rights law expert, a child psychiatrist, teachers and students, spoke of the need for dialogue around discrimination in Newton, addressing issues of racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and discrimination against people with disabilities.

But some Jewish residents, including many with direct familial or personal ties to the Holocaust, wished the forum was more focused on recognizing and denouncing the anti-Semitic graffiti in particular. There was also a group of activists upset about “anti-Israel” teaching materials they feel contributed to the anti-Semitic incidents.

“The idea that we’re supposed to have a dialogue with people who put swastikas up after the Holocaust is absurd,” said resident Steven Katz, a professor of Jewish Holocaust Studies at Boston University. “And this evening is not supposed to be about liberal values. It’s supposed to be about anti-Semitism.”

Tina Glik, a resident and parent, said she was concerned that “as clearly as the message was written, ‘Burn the Jews,’ we came here to listen to: let’s be nice, let’s talk about racism, let’s talk about discrimination against gay people, let’s talk about anything else but anti-Semitism.”

Warren reiterated that he took any instances of anti-Semitism “very seriously,” calling anti-Semitic graffiti found at F. A. Day Middle School “despicable” and “horrible.” He pledged that all potential hate crimes would be investigated, with the perpetrators punished. Anti-Semitic graffiti was also discovered at Newton North High School multiple times during the past several months.

 The Boston Globe  initial report of the acrimonious meeting  alleged that the  protesters at the public  meeting had ‘disrespected’  an articulate African American woman who drew attention to her son’s isolation at the Newton High school as evidence of racism, “Activists disrupt Newton forum on prejudice:

The group of activists was led by Newton resident Charles Jacobs, who has had a longtime grievance with the city’s schools about what he says are pro-Palestinian and anti-Semitic text books.

[…]

Newton resident Janet Yassen said it was her first time attending this type of community meeting, and she came because she was interested in hearing what Warren had to say.

But what she saw from some members of the crowd “disgusted” her, she said.

“It was embarrassing, it was awful,” she said.

After hearing the students, who at the end of the evening mingled with some of the most vocal in the crowd, Yassen said she was heartened.

“The young people were phenomenal,” she said. “For them to confront the disrespect shown by some of the adults was really courageous.”

Following the ‘rowdy’ meeting two Boston Jewish community groups, the Combined Jewish Philanthropies, the Boston Jewish Federation’s affiliate, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and the local chapter of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) seized upon the Globe  report that an African American woman had been ‘heckled’ by protesters at the public meeting.  The joint AJC/JCRC news release, while noting the persistent problems of anti-Semitic materials in school programs, wrongly criticized  the protesters:

To our dismay, a group of activists – who have been identified in the media as members of the Jewish community – disrupted the proceedings. An African-American mother was heckled while discussing her own child’s experience of racism. There were loud contentions that the only concern worthy of discussion was anti-Semitism. The overall affect was to shift the focus of the meeting from concerns about anti-Semitism, as well as racism and homophobia to the conduct of the meeting itself.

The escalation and obfuscation was amped up by The Boston Globe that seized upon the joint JCRC/AJC news release  in an article that went viral via the AP and  internet outlets like Yahoo news and other social media,  “Jewish groups condemn ‘disrespect’ at Newton forum:”

Leaders of two Jewish organizations on Monday condemned the behavior of a group of activists at a community meeting in Newton last week, saying the struggle against anti-Semitism must be part of a larger effort to build “respectful tolerant communities.”

In a joint statement, the American Jewish Committee Boston and the Jewish Community Relations Council said the activities of those who disrupted a meeting at City Hall on Thursday night “do not represent the broader sentiments of the Jewish community.”

This time, Jacobs of APT was able to fire back at both the Globe and AJC/JCRC accusations in the latest Globe article:

Charles Jacobs, the leader of the activists, said in an e-mail to the Globe that he was “quite surprised” by the statement.

Jacobs, founder of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, has had a longtime grievance with the city’s schools about what he says are pro-Palestinian and anti-Semitic textbooks.

“Given that Jews in Europe and in the Middle East are hunted, hounded and murdered because of an anti-Semitism which falsely portrays the world’s only Jewish state as among the cruelest of nations . . . and given that the Saudis and United Arab Emirates have been caught funding ‘lessons’ that taught these things in the Newton schools . . . and given that (Newton) School Superintendent David Fleishman was forced to remove some of this material and yet told the people at the meeting that he knew nothing about it, I think the meeting was, under these circumstance, quite civil,” Jacobs wrote.

However, the AJC/JCRC with the complicity of this second Globe article continued to convey the false information by School Superintendent Fleischman that the woman at the Newton public meeting had been ‘disrespected:’

“Moreover, it is hardly a secret that pernicious elements exist that are seeking to import anti-Israel and anti-Jewish bias into American school curriculums. We share this concern. However, it does not justify conduct that was manifest at this meeting or the disrespect that was shown to neighbors, who also had difficult experiences of their own to discuss.”

Fleischman, who was booed at last Thursday’s meeting and required a police escort to leave, retorted in an email on April 11, 2016 cited by The Globe saying:

In an interview Friday, Fleishman said that Jacobs’s complaints about the Newton curriculum being biased against Israel “are issues from the past,” which were resolved in 2013.

“They have our entire curriculum, our faculty at both high schools spent hours putting together all the material, unit by unit, in response to freedom of information requests,” Fleishman said of Jacobs’s group.

Fleishman sent an e-mail to faculty on Monday discussing the events of the forum.

“What was intended to be a community discussion to ensure Newton is a welcoming and inclusive place for all turned into a display of disrespectful and uncivil behavior,” Fleishman wrote. “Some in the audience were particularly insensitive toward a Newton parent who courageously shared a story of racism faced by her son.”

Jacobs and APT responded to Fleischman’s allegation, Tuesday with video documentation suggesting that both Fleishman and The AJC/JCRC were wrong about the alleged “heckling”. The Globe proceeded to soft pedal it:

On Tuesday afternoon, Jacobs’s organization issued a statement denying that the woman had been heckled.

In a video of the community meeting posted on the city’s website, the woman talks about her son’s experiences with racism. Twice she is interrupted, prompting someone in the crowd to call out, “Let her speak.”

The JCRC/AJC and The Globe were upended by the APT cell phone video that captured evidence that the woman had been, if anything, respected by attendees at the public hearing.  Watch the You tube video of the woman’s presentation at the Newton public meeting.

Problem is that the JCRC/AJC and The Globe reports have not been challenged on the lack of credibility, let alone credulity.

Jacobs has been warning for years that establishment Jewish organizations have failed to shift to the new situation Jews face: anti-Israelism, the new anti-Semitism. Now Jews are hated for their “apartheid state,” Israel.   The radical left/radical Muslim alliance, the red-green alliance is hunting and killing Jews in Israel and Europe. They intimidate Jews on American college campuses with eviction notices, fake Apartheid walls, simulated border checks and die –ins, especially during Israel Apartheid Weeks. The Jewish establishment Jacobs contends fled from this new anti-Semitic alliance. They still want to fight the old anti-Semitism, neo- Nazis, White Aryan nation and KKK racists. They cower and are confused in the face of a leftist anti-Zionism and patently Islamist anti-Semitism that Jews in Europe fear will cause them to leave, a second time. Jacobs has been hounded by what passes for the Jewish Establishment for years because of his position. This latest episode in Newton he thinks may be their push-back

We asked Jacobs for his views on the dispute. Here is what we wrote us:

Why would the Boston Jewish leadership not insist on seeing the curriculum, after Newton School Superintendent Fleishman was forced to remove a Saudi funded anti-Semitic lesson that taught students that Jews in Israel murder Arab women in jail? After they have all seen the video which shows those libels.

It should not be forgotten that the Jews of Europe are hounded, hunted and murdered because of anti-Israelism.  American Jewish students are harassed and intimidated on campuses because of the same ideology that is being taught in the Newton schools. Newton has security at its synagogues for the very same reason: anti-Israelism. Yet some of Newton’s top Jewish leaders prefer to circle the wagons, defend their friends and deny the truth.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Newton, Massachusetts Mayor Setti Warren faces Dr. Charles Jacobs of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, taken on April 7, 2016. Source: Katherine Taylor, Boston Globe

Boston Jewish Leadership caught in Deception over Newton Schools Disputed Texts

Questions on the integrity of Boston Jewish communal groups, the regional office of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) and its affiliate, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) were raised in a Boston Jewish newspaper report released this week.  The investigation was prompted by a raging dispute with Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) over the Newton, Massachusetts School Board use of controversial anti-Israel and Muslim proselytizing high school texts.

The Boston Jewish Advocate (The Advocate), the weekly Jewish community newspaper of record, has published an investigation of this latest development in an 18 month battle brought to the community’s attention by Dr. Charles Jacobs and his team at Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT), “ADL, CJP Newton reaction raises questions of integrity”.  We posted on The Iconoclast about this simmering dispute in late October 2013, when Jacobs and APT took out ads in several local and regional newspapers.  These were about the troubling world history course texts used by the Newton School Board in 9th and 10th grades; “The Arab World Studies Notebook” and “A Muslim Primer”.

The Advocate’s expose was triggered by a November 15, 2013 letter signed by the heads of the regional ADL, the CJP and its affiliate, the JCRC, published in the newspaper, alleging that they had conducted their own investigation on the troubling Newton school board texts. This letter was prompted by another ad by the APT pointing out the lack of attention by the local Jewish defense and Federation groups to anti-Israel maps from the controversial texts similar to those that ran on bus kiosks and in subways of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).  The Advocate expose noted:

Controversy continues to swirl over a statement released by the ADL, CJP and JCRC claiming that charges by APT President Charles Jacobs of anti-Israel material in the Newton Public Schools were groundless.

Following that statement and ambiguity over whether a referenced ADL report even existed, the JCRC stated that it has also conducted an inquiry into alleged anti-Israel materials taught in 9th- and 10th-grade history classes in the Newton Public Schools that is separate from that of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
However, the JCRC – like the ADL before it – declined to share the details of their review with the public, prompting some in the community – including an instructor at Brandeis University in Waltham – to raise the question of transparency in local Jewish organizations.

We have reported in New English Review articles, interviews and Iconoclast posts on the local Boston regional and national investigations by the APT. In particular we have drawn attention to the nearly decade long battle to uncover the support and indoctrination in terrorism by the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC) controlled by an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood,  the Muslim American Society..  The ISBCC figured prominently in the incitement of the Boston Marathon jihad bombers, the refugee Tsarneav brothers.   APT also produced a documentary on anti-Semitism in the Northeastern University faculty and its former Muslim Chaplain associated with the ISBCC.   The APT also produced the nationally acclaimed film, Losing our Sons about the first home grown Islamic terrorist action after 9/11 by Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, aka, Carlos Bledsoe. He was trained by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. He attacked a Little Rock, Arkansas Army Recruitment center on June 1, 2009.  Mohammed-Bledsoe, originally from Memphis, Tennessee, engaged in a jihad action that took the life of the late Army Pvt. Andy Long, seriously injuring a fellow recruiter, Army Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula.

The deception, disputed  by the ADL, CJP and JCRC in this latest development, was uncovered through investigations by Middle East watchdog group CAMERA’s  Joshua Katzen, a Brandeis University adjunct faculty member, and Russell Pergament, publisher of the Jewish News Services (JNS).

The Advocate cited ADL and JCRC’s lack of transparency:

Neither ADL nor JCRC has agreed to release its findings in order to support their joint statement in a Letter to the Editor in the Nov. 15 issue of The Advocate, where the organizations’ leaders wrote that they have done a “careful review of the materials at issue,” concluding, “We trust that this is reassuring to members of our community.”

[ADL New England Regional Director] Robert Trestan said a report of their investigation does not exist, ADL’s New England Regional Board Chair, Jeffrey Robbins,
said there is indeed such a written analysis but it is not available to the media.“It’s an internal report,” he said. “People do this stuff internally all the time. … It involves all kinds of proprietary research.”

JCRC Executive Director Jeremy Burton said … JCRC has not completed a “written report or briefing memo” of its analysis.

Katzen replied:

The failure of both organizations to release the reports that they claim to have undertaken, by nameless non-experts, indicates that no such reports were ever prepared.

While CAMERA has an expert on the subject, [Senior Research Analyst] Steve Stotsky, who made serious and professional findings, there doesn’t appear to be anyone at either ADL or JCRC with the credentials to analyze the curricula. Why on earth would they be refusing to release the reports?  Only two explanations: Either the reports are slipshod and amateur, or [they] don’t exist.

Barry Shrage, President of the CJP responded:

Implicitly acknowledging that there were in fact such materials in the Newton schools, Shrage said, “In my view the question of existence [of materials listed on APT’s advertisement] is not the issue, but rather how these materials were used.”

When asked about how the situation reflects on transparency of the Jewish community organizations, Shrage turned the attention on Jacobs’ group, saying, “What about APT? Where is their transparency?” He went on to say that APT still has not answered questions to ADL and JCRC’s inquiries.

In response to the question about his organization’s transparency, Jacobs said in an e-mail, “Our ads and our many op-eds have disclosed the basis of our concerns.”

Russell Pergament publisher of the JNS who conducted his own investigation said:

I really doubted any report existed. I pushed hard on the phone with Schrage…. I wanted facts. What is really alarming here is to see Boston’s most powerful and
well funded Jewish communal organizations train their firepower on one courageous man, Charles Jacobs, who has time and again come to the aid of Jewish high school and college students facing harassment.  These groups often did nothing and, worse yet, even tried to undercut him. That they jointly, almost conspiratorially, joined forces to try and take him down is worse than disgraceful. You have to question their fitness to retain these positions of trust.

An anonymous prominent Boston Jewish community leader observed:

Instead of releasing any report or detailed findings on which their statement is based, these organizations are asking us to blindly trust them and their general conclusion on faith. And yet, how can we do that when they are saying two inconsistent and contradictory things, at least one of which is therefore a lie? This is no longer just a story about the Newton schools, but about accountability and how our communal organizations and leadership operates.

Jacobs of the APT commented:

It seems to me that ADL has done a disservice to the Jewish community and Jewish leadership in Boston, by claiming to have done a thorough, quality investigation – which they refuse to disclose …

We do not believe ADL has any credible basis for its continuing claim that there is nothing for Boston’s Jewish community to worry about. This is very unfortunate for a community that desperately needs strong leadership at a time when Israel and its supporters are under attack in universities, in K-12, and in the media.

Once again, Jacobs and the APT team as well as independent investigators have caught the Boston Jewish community leaders in a web of deception abetting anti-Israelism in both the local schools and in the public debate.  This does not come as a surprise to us, nor is it an isolated case.  For example, we can point to our investigations of the controversial Olive Tree Initiative at UCAL Irvine funded by an affiliate of the local Orange County, California Jewish Federation.

How can we trust the Boston Jewish leaders to defend both Israel and the Jewish people?

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.