Do you know that when the British explorers came to the "New World" they met "Iroquois and Algonquin chiefs with names like Abdul-Rahim and Abdallah Ibn Malik?" That is just one of the alleged facts in the textbook "Arab World Studies Notebook," published by Middle East Policy Council (MPEC). The President of the organization, Chas Freeman Jr. has had his name "floated" in the media as President Obama's selection for Chairman of the National Intelligence Council.
The Council reports that it strives to fulfill its objectives through three major activities:
- Middle East Policy - a quarterly journal of political, economic and social analysis.
- Workshops for high school teachers - daylong training sessions to build a fact-based foundation for educating America's youth about the Arab world and Islam
- A Capitol Hill Conference Series - forums for members of Congress, their staffs, federal government officials, foreign policy experts and the media.
This post will examine the educational activities of President Obama's proposed head of U.S. Intelligence.
In 2005 the JTA investigated what American Students are being taught about Israel, America and Islam. One part of the series (called Tainted Teachings) gives an overview of what Ambassador Freeman is teaching American Children. "Arab World Studies Notebook" , a joint project of Freeman's MEPC Berkeley, Calif.-based Arab World and Islamic Resources, or AWAIR, (www.awaironline.org) who gets a major part of its funding from Saudi Aramco, the Saudi government-owned oil company. Below is a reference from that study:
Some of the references are subtle [in "Arab World Studies Notebook"] critics say, making them all the more harmful. For example, the manual:
- 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.
.....The second organization involved in the manual is the Middle East Policy Council of Washington, which helps print and disseminate the 500-page manual of essays, lesson plans and primary sources.
The council lists the manual as the primary resource material for its teacher-training program. It employs Shabbas to conduct its training and seminars. According to the group's Web site (www.mepc.org), more than 16,000 educators have attended its workshops in 175 cities in 43 states. The manual itself claims to have reached 25 million students.
The council, which is headed by Charles Freeman Jr., a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, gets direct funding from Saudi Arabia.
In an interview, the council's acting director, Jon Roth, declined to specify how much money his group gets from Riyadh, but made clear that he is seeking much more.
.....The council's board of directors includes executives from companies with huge financial stakes in Saudi Arabia, including Boeing, ExxonMobil Saudi Arabia, the Carlyle Group and the Saudi Binladin Group.
Roth said that funding to the organization "has no strings attached.
Sandra Stotsky, a former senior associate commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Education, is one of a growing number of critics of the "Arab World Studies Notebook." It is one of the examples she cites in a study, "The Stealth Curriculum: Manipulating America's History Teachers," in which she examines supplemental teaching materials.
The problem with many of the supplemental materials, which are most often distributed through teacher training workshops, "is the ideological mission of the organizations that create them," she said in her study, published last year by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, a Washington-based think tank on education.
"They embed their political agendas in the instructional materials they create so subtly that apolitical teachers are unlikely to spot them."
In an interview with JTA, Stotsky called the notebook "a piece of propaganda" rather than scholarly work.
Another review of the book was conducted by the Textbook League. The league is a resource for middle-school and high-school educators. It provides commentaries on over 200 items, including textbooks, curriculum manuals, videos and reference books.
In his analysis of Arab World Studies Notebook, Textbook League's president, William J. Bennetta reports some concerns with Freeman's Text, not the least of which is that it claims to have the be "Highly Regarded" by the California Board of Education. The Board denied this claim.
Bennetta also says:
The Notebook is a vehicle for disseminating disinformation, including a multitude of false, distorted or utterly absurd claims that are presented as historical facts. I infer that the Notebook has three principal purposes: inducing teachers to embrace Islamic religious beliefs; inducing teachers to embrace political views that are favored by the MEPC and AWAIR; and impelling teachers to disseminate those religious beliefs and political views in schools.
He points to the subtle ways the notebook "exploits" Jesus, talking about how the book teaches "Jesus is an important figure" in Islam but omits that
Koran 9:30 -- i.e., sura 9, verse 30 -- we read that Muhammad wanted Christians to be damned because they said that Jesus was the son of God
Bennetta also points to Chas Freeman's American History Errors:
....article [in the Notebook] in which Shabbas and someone called Abdallah Hakim Quick disclose that Muslims reached the New World in pre-Columbian times and spread throughout the Caribbean, Central America, South America and even Canada. By the time when Columbus arrived, it seems, the New World was fairly crawling with Muslims -- and English explorers met "Iroquois and Algonquin chiefs with names like Abdul-Rahim and Abdallah Ibn Malik." Do Quick and Shabbas cite any sources to support such claims? No, they don't. They don't even tell the names of the English explorers, let alone the titles and dates of the documents in which those explorers reported their encounters with Amerindian Muslims.
You can read his full analysis here
Ambassador Chas Freeman Jr. is being considered for the position of Chairman of the National Intelligence Council. In that job he will evaluate the information coming in from the many U.S. intelligence organizations and decide which information is important enough to move "up the ladder." It would be a troubling development if that position is filled by someone who can't even figure out who discovered America.