Most people are aware that Saudi Arabia funds many, if not most, of the mosques in the United States. What's less well known, and just as troubling, is the influence Saudi Arabia has in our public schools. Ever hear of the Arab World Studies Workbook? The workbook is published jointly by the Middle East Policy Council (MEPC) and Arab World and Islamic Resources (AWAIR). It was written and edited by Audrey Shabbas, the director of AWAIR who has written numerous other "hugely influential resources for teachers". In addition to offering these resources to teachers, AWAIR conducts workshops:
Let us conduct a teacher professional development program ("workshop") for your school, district, county or state office of education, or for your university or community organization.
NO grant proposals to write. Set the date with Audrey Shabbas and it's a "go". There are only two requirements: a minimum of 30 participants and at least 5 hours of presentation (Audrey is happier with six or seven - so plan as long a day as you like!) AWAIR has presented such FREE programs to 10,000 teachers over the past ten years.
A chapter of the workbook titled "The First Christians" is posted online at the MEPC website. There are several quoted items from other sources reprinted in the chapter including this one (my emphasis):
Will the Holy Land become a theme park of Christian history with most of the Christians gone?
"We, as Christians, have become an insignificant part of the population," says Canon Riah Abu El Assal, archdeacon of the Jerusalem diocese of the Evangelical Episcopal Church. In the middle of the century, Christians represented 25 percent of the Holy Land's population, he explains in the small, stone Christ Church, a short walk from the Nazareth site where tradition says the angel Gabriel told Mary she would give birth to the Messiah. Now the Christian population is only around 2 percent.
In less than 30 years [since the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem began in 1967], Riah says, the number of Christians in the faith's geographical heart, Jerusalem, has dropped from 28,000 to 7,000.. . The drain of Christians from the Holy Land, little noted by the church in the rest of the world, is part of a general exodus of Palestinian Arabs from a homeland they have found hostile and unpromising. Beginning in 1948, when the new State of Israel occupied vast areas of Palestinian land and began imposing harsh conditions on its Arab inhabitants, steady emigration has scattered the Holy Land's Christian families throughout the earth.
Their departure has not been undertaken lightly. Palestinians commonly trace family ties to the land back hundreds of years. Christians often claim roots in the country dating from the time of the apostles.
"We frequently get asked, ‘When did you convert?'" Jonathan Kuttab, 42, a Christian attorney and human-rights activists in Jerusalem. "We're Christians from the day of Pentecost. We have lived in this society, we have held witness, the testimony, all these years."
Bruce Brander, "Will Palestinian Christians Survive?" Christianity Today, 1994.
And this one:
Asked how being an Anglican Christian affected her Palestinian identity, Hannan Ashrawi, spokesperson for the Palestinian delegation to the Israel/Palestinian peace talks, had this to say:
"I keep reminding people that Christianity started in Palestine. It's a Middle Eastern religion, and we are extensions of the earliest community in Palestine. We have been there for centuries. Part of our own self-definition as Palestinians is that we are the original Christians and that we also have centuries of Muslim history. This society, which is so complex, has developed in ways in which mutual tolerance grew very organic!
I do not even know who is Christian and who is Muslim among my friends. We were solidly together as part of Palestinian authenticity, Palestinian nationality.
So the Palestinian Christians are not a minority. We are Palestinians and we happened to be Christians, and this is part of our heritage and our authenticity. The Muslims are guardians of holy places, of Christian places, as Christians can be guardians of Muslim holy places.
Commonweal, October 8, 1993
Shabbas might want to update the chapter and include this:
Life for Palestinian Christians such as 50-year-old Joseph(Canawati)has become increasingly difficult in Bethlehem - and many of them are leaving.
The town's Christian population has dwindled from more than 85 per cent in 1948 to 12 per cent of its 60,000 inhabitants in 2006.
There are reports of religious persecution, in the form of murders, beatings and land grabs.
Meanwhile, the breakdown in security is putting off tourists, leading to economic hardship for Christians, who own most of the town's hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops.
The situation has become so desperate that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, are to lead a joint delegation to Bethlehem this week to express their solidarity with the beleaguered Christian populace.
The town, according to the Cardinal, is being "steadily strangled".
The sense of a creeping Islamic fundamentalism is all around in Bethlehem.
George Rabie, a 22-year-old taxi driver from the Bethlehem suburb of Beit Jala, is proud of his Christianity, even though it puts him in daily danger.
Two months ago, he was beaten up by a gang of Muslims who were visiting Bethlehem from nearby Hebron and who had spotted the crucifix hanging on his windscreen.
"Every day, I experience discrimination," he says. "
"So the Palestinian Christians are not a minority." I guess it depends on who you ask.
The Table of Contents is also available at the MEPC website. Scroll down to Part II Country Profiles for the list of countries. Notice anything missing? Here is a hint. It's Israel. Palestine, however is included. No agenda here.
From the California Catholic Daily:
Shabbas told the Daily Star (Lebanon) that she orients curriculum to a pro-Islamic view and “points teachers toward tools that will help them go farther in their own classrooms. Over the years, the [Arab World Studies] Notebook has been distributed to over 10,000 teachers, most of whom share the resource with others. If each notebook teaches 250 students a year over 10 years, then you've reached 25 million students."
The MEPC provides a free copy of the Notebook to each workshop participant.
According to Sandra Stotsky, former director of a development institute for teachers at Harvard, cited by Stanley Kurtz in “Saudi in Her Classroom” (National Review Online, July 25, 2007), Shabbas’ seminars promote, rather than describe, Islam while excluding or criticizing Jewish and Christian views. The lesson plans also provide an affective, experiential approach, with children role-playing Islamic life, saying Muslim prayers, and copying and memorizing portions of the Koran.
Stotsky remarked, “If Harvard’s outreach personnel had designed similar classroom exercises based on Christian or Jewish models, then People for the American Way, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the A.C.L.U. would descend upon them like furies.”
How can the Middle East Policy Council fund this continent-spanning teacher-training project?
According to Stanley Kurtz, the teacher training project is funded through various channels leading back to the government of Saudi Arabia. Says Kurz, “The full extent of Saudi curricular funding… includes funding from Saudi Aramco, a Saudi government-owned oil company, for a Berkeley, California-based group called AIWAR. (ed. note, should be AWAIR)
Here is the link to Kurtz's column at National Review Online, Saudi in the Classroom. Kurtz refers to an investigative report by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) that reveals the "full extent of Saudi curricular funding, and the magnitude of its influence over university outreach programs funded under Title VI". Title VI is part of the Higher Education Act which provides subsidies to university programs of Middle East Studies. Meaning our tax dollars are also in play.
Saudi Arabia is paying to influence the teaching of American public schoolchildren. And the U.S. taxpayer is an unwitting accomplice. A special JTA investigation uncovers the complex path by which teaching materials creep into U.S. public schools. It reveals who creates these materials and how some of America's most prestigious universities — with the use of federal funds — help disseminate them.
According to the JTA, the Middle East Policy Council was seeking major funding for its teaching efforts from Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz in late 2005. Alwaleed himself initiated contacts with MEPC after hearing about its seminars designed to shape American teachers’ perceptions of the Middle East. It appears that the partnership between MEPC and Prince Alwaleed has borne fruit. This past March, Prince Alwaleed announced that he was supplementing his earlier donation of $100,000 to MEPC with a $1 million gift for its teacher-training programs. By the way, this is the same Prince Alwaleed whose $10 million post-9/11 gift was returned by Rudy Giuliani because that gift was accompanied by a letter blaming American foreign policy for the attack on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. (For more on massive gifts by Prince Alwaleed to Harvard and Georgetown for programs Islamic studies, see this item by Martin Kramer.)
It's important to note that these teaching materials are intended for grades K-12. Our public education system is perilously close to Indoctrinate U. Our universities have already turned into politically correct, multi-cultural "brainwashing" institutions, next stop elementary and high schools.
Why on earth do we let Saudi Arabia send course materials into our schools? Why on earth do we let organizations like MEPC and AWAIR determine what is taught to our young people? Just consider for a moment the names of these organizations: Middle East Policy Council. Arab World and Islamic Resources. We live in the United States. Is there some organization called the United Sates Policy Council or American World and Christian Resources publishing text books for school children in Saudi Arabia?