One of the parts of a website the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis recently launched that Steven Stotsky thinks is most vital is a review of “biased books.”
“In recent years, anti-Israel authors have been publishing their propaganda through the medium of young-adult fiction and children’s storybooks,” Stosky, who directs the 41-year-old nonprofit’s Education Institute, told JNS. The site provides a “user-friendly” response to the problem, about which the nonprofit has heard from many parents.
Stotsky thinks there are two problems with anti-Israel materials increasingly appearing in children’s literature. First, no standard exists regarding accurate historical analysis. “False historical information about Israel and Israelis is getting smuggled into the curriculum based on poetic license,” he says.
And since literature can affect readers emotionally, “these fictional stories have the incredible power to turn impressionable students against Israel on a deep, emotive level,” he says, “long before they have had a chance to hear all sides of the argument about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
The CAMERA Education Institute website offers critical reviews of those propagandist texts, Stotsky says. Parents can find “information-rich literary critiques for when they want to protest the school’s use of these stories in their child’s reading lessons.”
A review of a 2023 picture book notes that the author’s prior work includes a map that erases Israel and labels it “Palestine.” The latest book “is not explicitly hostile to Israel,” per the review. “Israel and Jews are simply erased from text and illustrations,” it notes. “Indeed, no child reading this book will learn that there was ever anything Jewish about Jerusalem,” which the book portrays as judenrein (“cleansed of Jews”).
A 2022 children’s book “reads Israeli history backwards, crediting the Holocaust for Israel’s creation and, shockingly, contriving a fanciful parallel between the Arabs’ nakba (‘catastrophe’) and the Holocaust,” according to the CAMERA review.
Another important part of the new site, according to Stotsky, is a feature that tracks the distribution of anti-Israel educational materials in elementary, junior and high schools, including materials focused on ethnic studies.
“Our website reports on extensive problems with ethnic-studies curricula, providing articles for a broader understanding of the issues associated with it,” he tells JNS.
In response, CAMERA created “a comprehensive Israel curriculum for secondary and middle schools, as well as an extensive resource section that includes topics such as myths and facts about Israel, the history of Jerusalem, Palestinian Arab and Jewish refugees, the Six-Day War and Israeli settlements in disputed territories,” he says.
Stotsky adds that “any effective solution to the antisemitism and anti-Israel material infiltrating K-12 schools will require the committed participation of educators, parents and the students themselves.”