The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has called on the Davis (California) Joint Unified School District to ensure that materials presented and promoted at school-sponsored events be accurate and not based on hateful anti-Israel propaganda. In a letter sent yesterday to the districts superintendent, the ZOA expressed its outrage about a factually inaccurate map of the Middle East that was posted at the Annual International Heritage Day in May 2008, at one of the districts elementary schools. (To read the ZOAs letter, click here.) The map did not include any reference to the State of Israel; instead, Palestine was erroneously denoted on the map in Israels place. At this point in time, there is no state of Palestine. In fact, there never was.
Making matters worse, when a complaint about the map was lodged with the district, the district took almost a year to respond. When it finally responded, the district attempted to justify the use of a map of the Middle East at school-sponsored events that makes no reference to Israel.
The districts decision is now under review by the superintendent, Dr. James Q. Hammond, and the ZOA has urged him to reverse the districts shockingly misguided and bigoted decision. In its letter to Dr. Hammond, the ZOA said, The fundamental issue is whether the school district is going to permit and promote deliberately false information at school-sponsored events in derogation of its duty to ensure that materials that are presented to students are accurate and not misleading, and that such materials are based on facts and historical truths, not someones bigotry or political agenda.
The ZOA sent copies of the letter to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, U.S. Representative Mike Thompson, State Senator Lois Wolk, State Assemblymember Mariko Yamada, and the members of the Board of Education.
The ZOA called on the superintendent to uphold the districts responsibility to its students, ensuring that materials presented and promoted at school-sponsored events are accurate and do not promote hatred or the demonization of any people or country. In addition, the ZOA urged that the district-wide guidelines, expected to be issued for all school-sponsored activities, comply with this mandate.
Morton A. Klein, the ZOAs National President, and Susan B. Tuchman, Esq., the director of the ZOAs Center for Law and Justice, expressed their astonishment that the school district would even consider tolerating a map of the Middle East that omitted Israel: When the individual who displayed the map with no reference to Israel was confronted with the maps inaccuracy, she reportedly responded in anger that the Arab world does not recognize Israel. In fact, Egypt and Jordan have recognized the State of Israel. It is also a fact that Israel is a sovereign nation among the nations of the world, recognized by the United Nations.
Would the school district ever allow a map at a school-sponsored event that depicted all of Jordan as Israel? Of course not.
No school district should ever tolerate for one second the deliberate falsification of the truth, especially when its clear that the omission of Israel from the map at International Heritage Day was based on animus toward Israel and Jews. The district is entrusted with educating and instilling knowledge of the truth, not false political propaganda, in our children. We urge the superintendent to do the right thing and make sure that our public schools dont become tools for promoting falsehoods based on bigotry or hate.