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October 8, 2018 10:02 am

Report: Qatari Foundation Influences Anti-Israel Propaganda in US Schools

avatar by Jackson Richman / JNS.org

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US President Donald Trump meets with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in the Oval Office at the White House on April 10, 2018. Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque.

JNS.org – For seven years, the Qatari government has been spending $8 million to influence content in classrooms across the United States, including in the heavily Jewish-populated town of Newton, Massachusetts, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“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 a statement from the Boston-based organization Americans for Peace and Tolerance. “Just this past May, Newton North High School invited an antisemitic group to screen Palestinian propaganda films to its students. For this, [Newton Public Schools (NPS)] Superintendent David Fleishman earned a rebuke from the New England branch of the Anti-Defamation League and Boston’s Jewish Community Relations Council.”

As previously reported by JNS, the school district is facing a lawsuit in Massachusetts Superior Court from a community group called Education Without Indoctrination (EWI), 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.”

The Massachusetts-based Primary Source organization, which is partly funded by the Qatar Foundation International (QFI), part of the Qatari ruling Al-Thani family’s Qatar Foundation, also organized a training course that was reportedly attended by Newton history teacher David Bedar. According to Ilya Feoktistov, writing in the The Federalist, Bedar has allegedly worked with other teachers through email to “harass, bully, and ‘call out’ conservative students in the classroom, admitting to acting as a ‘liberal propagandist’ in the classroom.”

The Middle East Forum’s Sam Westrop told JNS about the specific course material funded by QFI.

“Al Masdar, QFI’s flagship curriculum project, is heavily promoted in American schools. The courses include lessons such as ‘Express Your Loyalty to Qatar,’ and another that teaches about the ‘greed’ of the corporations ostensibly responsible for the Iraq war in the wake of the Bush administration’s ‘lies’ about 9/11,” he said.

“Another promoted course encourages students to discuss ‘Israeli soldiers taunting and shooting children in Palestinian refugee camps, with the assistance of US military aid,’” continued Westrop. “Maggie Salem, the head of [the foundation’s] US branch, Qatar Foundation International, is a prominent supporter of BDS measures against Israel,” he added.

Moreover, said Westrop, “the foundation bestows awards upon Hamas leaders, employs some of the world’s most prominent Islamist ideologues at its institutions in Doha, and works with charities in the region that the Israeli government has accused of funding terrorism.”

Jackson Richman is the Washington Correspondent for JNS.org.

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