School Lesson Comparing Palestinian Plight to American Revolution Withdrawn

Officials in Washington have reportedly removed Wednesday an assignment from a school curriculum which was what they called a "clear example of implicit bias" concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has taken a lesson plan from its K-12 Native American curriculum, which offered the conflict between Israel and Palestinians as potential "contemporary connections" to U.S. colonies and Native American's fights for independence.

"Students will create a Timeline of Events that lead up to either the Indian or American Fight for Independence," the curriculum states.

"If you plan to make contemporary connections, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would work. Why do the Palestinians want to be free from Israeli dominance? Have their sacred homelands returned to them?"

The overall "learning goal" states: "Students compare the similarities between the struggles for Independence of the Indian Nations, the US Colonies, and (if the teacher chooses) another contemporary struggle, such as the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict."

Writing for the Jewish News Syndicate, Jonah Cohen, of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA), said that the "leading questions gave the children no alternative but to view Israel as a colonial aggressor."

Seattle-based radio host Jason Rantz also described the disputed issue that Palestinians are losing their "sacred homelands" as amounting to "propaganda you'd read from terrorist organization Hamas. It's also nowhere near historically accurate."

In a statement to JNS, the OSPI confirmed that they have now removed the assignment.

"We share your concerns, and we have removed that example from the lesson plan posted online," the superintendent's office said in a statement.

"This is a clear example of implicit bias that we must work together to root out.

"There are very few areas within state law where OSPI is charged with creating or overseeing curricula, and in each of those areas, ensuring the materials are culturally responsive and unbiased is among our top priorities."

Speaking to Rantz's show on KTTH, Superintendent Chris Reykdal said it was "completely inappropriate" for a question to ask students to compare settler and Native American struggles to the Israel-Palestinian conflict in such a way.

Reykdal said the curriculum had been online for around a decade, but it is unclear how many teachers actually used it before it was taken down.

"This is one of those places where I think two people like you and I who don't always see the world similarly, certainly see the devastating effects of anti-Semitism," Reykdal said.

"And it comes in extreme forms like a tragic shooting in Seattle, but it comes in smaller forms too, like the implicit bias of a lesson plan that somebody might have thought 10 years ago was innocent."

The Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has been contacted for comment.

Israel lesson
A youth waves the Palestinian flag at the border east of Gaza city on May 15, 2016. Officials have removed a lesson school plan over accusations it was biased against Israel. MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images