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September 15, 2017 11:26 am

Watchdog Group Urges US Public Broadcaster PBS to Amend Lesson Plan Featuring Palestinian Terrorists

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A still from a video used in PBS’s online lesson plan for high school students, “Dying to be a Martyr.” Photo: PBS.

A media watchdog group commended PBS this week for amending an online lesson plan for high schoolers on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but urged the network to make further changes after the updated program was found to contain unfounded charges and exclude vital information.

Titled “Dying to Be a Martyr,” the original lesson plan included three filmed interviews with Palestinian men who either carried out or planned to commit terrorist attacks against Israelis, as well as written materials that were “extremely one-sided, prompting students to sympathize with the Palestinian side,” according to the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

After a public campaign, PBS updated the lesson plan with a fourth video, this time showing the devastation wrought by two Palestinian terrorists during the Har Nof massacre in Jerusalem in 2014, as well as the jubilant reaction of Hamas members, a condemnation by then-President Barack Obama and a call by then-Secretary of State John Kerry for an end to incitement.

The network further included a statement urging teachers “who use this lesson to strongly condemn terror and any assertion that it is ever appropriate.”

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While praising PBS for these updates, CAMERA noted that a student handout accompanying the fourth video included the “baseless” Palestinian claim that “Jewish assailants” were responsible for the death of a Palestinian bus driver shortly before the Har Nof massacre. Forensic examiners — including a Palestinian coroner — determined that the man’s death was a suicide, and Israeli officials linked incitement in Palestinian society over the fabricated charge to the attack at Har Nof.

The segment also featured a recording of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas denouncing “Israeli aggression on the holy sites, like burning mosques and churches,” while failing to mention that Israeli forces have not carried out such acts, and that arsonists acting independently of the state have been arrested and charged with crimes.

“This statement, by Abbas himself, is, again, exactly the type of incitement that Kerry and Netanyahu condemned,” CAMERA noted. “PBS, however, let it pass as a legitimate accusation and failed to show any examples of the incitement that is rampant in Palestinian media.”

The lesson plan also failed to note the PA’s policy of incentivizing terrorism by paying lifelong salaries to Palestinians who perpetrate attacks against Israelis.

“Finally, there is also still no mention of the Palestinian Authority’s rejection of multiple opportunities to create a Palestinian state, or of the multiple times Israel was attacked by Arab armies,” CAMERA observed.

This was not the first time that PBS has published a controversial lesson plan on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the watchdog group told The Algemeiner.

In 1989, PBS produced material based on David Shipler’s documentary, “Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in the Promised Land.”

“40,000 copies of the lesson plans had been sent to public and private schools around the country,” CAMERA said. “It was deceptive, biased, and inaccurate.”

It also pointed to the use of biased PBS school material in a Newton, Massachusetts school system from a program entitled: “A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.”

“It’s a sharply distorted document that clearly should not be in the classroom,” CAMERA added. “So PBS needs to take a look at all its lesson plans. CAMERA will be.”

PBS’ now-former ombudsman, Michael Getler, noted in April that critics of the original lesson plan — which was written before the 2008 negotiations between Abbas and then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert — “raise what I consider to be some legitimate questions about the content, or more precisely as I read it, a lack of more contextual content.”

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  • Michael Holloway

    I’m curious to know if this lesson package includes the voluminous information provided by Palestinian media on how Palestinian religious, political, and media leaders are instructing their people to kill Israelis to achieve the goal of eliminating Israel. See Yes, PMW is an avowed right wing organization. Yes, they cherry pick the Palestinian media – but incitement to violence is not a rare event. Everyday there’s something new. Its a constant, dominant, drum beat.
    Presenting a clear and complete picture of what the Palestinians are telling themselves of the situation and what they have to do is absolutely necessary to understand the enormous obstacles to achieving a peaceful resolution. If an achievable peaceful resolution is the actual goal then concentrating exclusively on arguments about how the Palestinians are justified in promoting an armed, bloody resistance is pointless and not helping the Palestinians at all.
    There are two facts that are not well understood by the general populace, and not discussed in the media. 1. The Palestinians have entered a quasi-religious cult mentality in which they’re convincing themselves that their only hope is the elimination of Israel through violence and martyrdom. 2. Israel is the dominant military power in the region and Israelis are very well prepared, both mentally and materially, for terrorist attacks. Israelis are not encouraged to be sympathetic toward the Palestinians by having their lives threatened, and the Israeli right wing is fully taking advantage.
    Promoting “the glorious armed resistance” is just pushing Palestinian heads into a buzz saw, and not helping the prospect for peace in the least. The brunt of the suffering from continued violence will fall on the Palestinians, and that will continue as long as they and their supporters insist on making themselves a threat to Israel.