In the midst of condemnation over public schools in the heavily Jewish populated town of Newton, Massachusetts, allegedly ignoring requests from parents and taxpayers about the use of anti-Israel educational materials funded by the Saudi oil company ARAMCO and the government of Qatar, a lawsuit was filed last week seeking some answers.
A community group called Education Without Indoctrination (EWI) filed a lawsuit on behalf of three Newton taxpayers against the Newton School Committee in Massachusetts Superior Court, claiming numerous violations of the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law “stemming from the school committee’s handling of a burgeoning scandal over antisemitic lessons and the promotion of Islamic religious beliefs as objective facts in the public school district’s history classes,” according to a statement from the Boston-based organization Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT).
“Newton public school students are propagandized with materials that slander Israel and the Jewish people, and that falsify history to promote the Islamic religion in public schools,” according to the statement. “Just this past May, Newton North High School invited an antisemitic group to screen Palestinian propaganda films to its students. For this, NPS Superintendent David Fleishman earned a rebuke from the New England branch of the Anti-Defamation League and Boston’s Jewish Community Relations Council.”
At a Newton Public School board meeting in June, residents expressed outrage over the anti-Israel classroom materials, and called for the superintendent to be fired.
Despite the school system removing its lessons from the “Arab World Studies Notebook,” which, according to APT, consists of an “overt bias and unabashed propagandizing,” such as demonizing Israel in wars throughout its short history and praising Muslim soldiers for their “gentle treatment of civilian populations,” it then replaced the materials with ones that are “pro-Arab, anti-Israel and antisemitic.”
“The Newton School Committee and the district’s superintendent, David Fleishman, have been stonewalling parents since 2011,” said EWI’s Tanya Gorlin. “And the classroom bias just keeps getting worse every year.”
“All that secrecy has now crossed into illegality,” said Karen Hurvitz, a member of EWI and counsel for the Newton taxpayers in this lawsuit against the Newton School Committee.
“For months now, dozens of Newton citizens have come before the school committee to complain about the non-objective, anti-Jewish and Islamic religious lessons, as well as about Superintendent David Fleishman, who has refused to stop it being taught,” she continued. “Yet the names of all these citizens and summaries of what they said were deliberately omitted from the school committee meeting minutes month after month.”