Two years ago Joel Klein, Chancellor of the NY public schools, bowed
to a heated and disingenuous attack by a group of zealots against any
American academic who had the temerity to deviate from Israel’s
elaborate,self-aggrandizing, and thoroughly dishonest story of itself,
and announced that Rashid Khalidi, the esteemed historian from
Columbia University, would not be allowed to speak at school-sponsored
teacher development sessions. Klein in effect scuttled a program in
which Columbia provided, pro bono, academics from a range of
disciplines to engage with teachers in staff development activities.
Fast forward to September,2006—five years after 911. The New York
City Council’s education committee approved a curriculum that will
grant graduate credit to teachers who take a 30-hour course of study
on Israel, written by the pr department of the Israeli Consulate.
Consul General Aryeh Mekel understood the import of this unprecedented
initiative: “through the teachers a generation of leaders will be
educated to maintain the special relations between the US and
Israel….We are not bringing politics, but are exposing them to
Israel as we know it and as we would like people to know it.” But no
Education is about asking questions, seeking the truth, challenging
dogma and convention, pursuing evidence, opening doors, upending
received wisdom. The City Council is promoting blatant propaganda,and
it should be resisted with the power of real education.