Newton Residents Sue City’s School Committee, Superintendent of Schools, Principals, and Teachers for Discrimination against Jews and Israelis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 19, 2019

Contact Ilya Feoktistov: if@peaceandtolerance.org

NEWTON RESIDENTS SUE CITY’S SCHOOL COMMITTEE, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, PRINCIPALS, AND TEACHERS FOR DISCRIMINATION AGAINST JEWS AND ISRAELIS

Ideological / Political Curriculum Teaches Propaganda Instead of Facts

NEWTON, MASSACHUSETTS. On March 12, 2019, Newton taxpayers filed a lawsuit in Middlesex Superior Court against the Newton School Committee, Superintendent of Schools David Fleishman, the principals of the Newton high schools, and certain high school history teachers. Plaintiffs are asking for a court order that would compel Newton school officials to stop indoctrinating students with anti-Semitism, bigotry against Israel, and Islamist religious dogma as part of the high school history curriculum. This suit was made necessary because the embattled school administration is shielding its teachers from scrutiny and refusing to supervise what is being taught in its classrooms. The taxpayers claim that Newton Public Schools (NPS) has deliberately failed and refused to comply with the Equal Rights Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution, with the Massachusetts Student Anti-Discrimination Act, and with civil rights regulations that require schools, through their curricula, to encourage respect for the human and civil rights of all individuals regardless of race, identity, religion, color, sex, and national origin.

The extensively documented 469-page legal complaint, available here, details the lengthy history of Newton residents’ efforts to have NPS address and correct the factually flawed teaching. Plaintiffs and their attorney were provided with an enormous volume of factual documentation by Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) Executive Director Ilya Feoktistov, whose investigations over the past several months formed the basis of this action. 

“In looking for the sources of the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel bigotry in the Newton curriculum, we discovered a few bad apple teachers who view their teaching positions as giving them license to promote their personal political agendas,” said Mr. Feoktistov. “We are also looking closely at a common pattern with these politicized teachers — most, if not all, have taken professional development courses developed with foreign funding by the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia.”

“Newton history teachers and school administrators must think either that anti-discrimination laws do not apply to them, or that these laws do not protect their Jewish and Israeli students,” said the President of APT, Charles Jacobs. “There is no academic freedom to brainwash students with fake history and pro-Arab or anti-Semitic propaganda that is, these days, alarmingly too common on the left in America.”

Evidence described in the complaint shows how Newton teachers teach that Jews and Christians deliberately forged their holy texts to contradict the Muslim Qur’an; that Zionism has “little connection” to Jewish history in “Palestine;” that the Jews took advantage of the Holocaust to gain sympathy for Zionism at the expense of “Arab plight;” and that the Israelis treat the Palestinians like the Nazis treated the Jews. After being taught all this, students are asked to debate whether there should be a one- or two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. 

Karen Hurvitz, attorney for the taxpayers, stated that her clients are not asking for money damages, even though defendants have certainly caused years of incalculable damage by their insistence on teaching impressionable students materials that slander Israel and Jews. “This is the type of teaching that leads to anti-Semitism — and it has. The taxpayers here are merely asking NPS to perform their duties and obey the law, which requires that their curriculum encourage respect for all people. Education should be based on fact, not on stereotypes and propaganda.”

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