10th Grade Textbook: World History - Glencoe/National Geographic

Note: The Verity Educate report also has a section on this text. The report is available here.

The textbook World History by Glencoe/National Geographic is used by 10th grade students to study the years 1750 until the present day. The book contains one and one-half pages (less than one column on p. 785 and less than two columns on pp. 731-732) to cover the tumultuous history of Israel during the past 250 years.

The column on p. 785, titled "The Problem of Palestine", consists of a two-sentence summary of the history of Israel during the past 1,000 years and a brief discussion of some events which occurred between the 1890s and 1939.

The book's summation of Israeli history between 1750 and the present is inaccurate and misleading. For example, the first paragraph states that "[a] Jewish presence always remained" in Israel after the Roman conquest, but entirely fails to acknowledge the extent of that presence. Even after the failure of the revolt against the Romans in 135 A.E.C., Jews made up 2/3 of the population of the Galilee, and Jews were the majority population in Israel from the 600s until the Crusades in 1099. After that time, periodic waves of returnees increased Jewish presence dramatically, while war and famine reduced it. The Galilee, especially the city of Safed, remained a major influence on Jewish religious and cultural life.

The rest of the column also contains misleading statements and omissions. The book claims that both Jews and "Palestinians" (the word referred to Jewish residents until the 1960's) saw pre-state Israel as a potential national state. This is simply not true. During both the period of time covered by the section and the thousand years before, there was never any mention of a 'Palestinian' Arab state; the area encompassing Israel and Jordan was part of Greater Syria. Only after the failure of repeated Arab attacks on Israel was any there any mention of creating a new Arab state in this area.

The inaccurate contention that Arabs and Jews have similar claims to the disputed territories, and the failure to state that there was no such dispute during the period covered by the column (as well as during the previous 1,000 years) is seriously misleading. Arab claims to 'Palestine' are forty years old. Jewish claims to their ancestral homeland are over 1,200 years old. These important facts are never mentioned in the text.

The omission of these facts gives credence to the anti-Israel narrative. The text refers to the "nationalism" of both Jews and 'Palestinians'. However, it is impossible to claim nationalism for a 'state' that never existed and for which there was no expressed desire for creation until recently. And there was certainly no claim to land for a future 'Palestinian' state in 1948 because the concept did not arrive for another twenty-eight years.

The two sections also contain numerous inaccuracies about Zionism, the history of Israel, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Below is a brief description of the inaccuracies and misrepresentations which occur in sections of the textbook read by Newton students. Not included is biased or inappropriate material in other sections of the book, no matter how egregious.

The textbook fails entirely to mention the Jewish people's connection with the land of Israel and the role that Zionism plays in Judaism, such as the fact that Jerusalem has had a Jewish majority since the 1840s, and that the reason there was less Jewish than Arab immigration during Ottoman rule was that Jews were forbidden to emigrate or buy land.

It also omits the important role played by Jewish Palestinian soldiers and intelligence agents who fought in the Jewish Legion as part of the British Army during World War I.

The book gives the impression that Zionism began in the 1890s with the worldwide surge of nationalism, instead of acknowledging that Zionism has been an essential tenet of Judaism since the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.C.E.

The Jewish people did not "recall" their connection to the land of Israel; it is a central tenet of Judaism. Observant Jews pray three times a day to return to Zion. Almost every prayer in the Saturday morning service asks for blessings for the state of Israel and the return of the Jewish people to their homeland. By contrast, neither Israel, 'Palestine', nor Jerusalem are mentioned in the Koran. The failure of the text to give any indication of the role Israel plays in Judaism deprives students of important facts and aids Israel's enemies by denying Jews' religious connection to the land.

Although the text mentions the Balfour Declaration, it completely omits that the territory it referred to was "the whole of historic Palestine, including Transjordan"; nor does it mention that the stated intent of the British Mandate over Palestine was to fulfill Britain's obligations under the Balfour Declaration. Instead of fulfilling its obligation, in 1921 Britain transferred 75% of the land reserved for the Jewish state to Abdallah bin-Hussein. The British also severely limited Jewish immigration to the remaining 25% of Palestine and ignored or encouraged Arab violence against Jews. None of this is mentioned in the book.

With respect to the partition of the remaining 25% of Palestine, the book makes no mention that the area accorded to the Jewish people was only 12% of that originally promised. The book also again ignores the role of the Jewish Legion, which fought for the Allies during both world wars, in Israel's creation and entirely overlooks the fact that Palestinian Arabs supported and fought for the Axis. Instead, the book portrays the creation of Israel as a 'gift' borne out of sympathy for Jewish Holocaust survivors.

The status of the Arab population of Israel is also misrepresented. First, the description of the Arab population of pre-state Israel as "Palestinian" is incorrect. That term was not used to refer to Arabs until the formation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in the mid-1960s. At the time Israel declared independence, and for many years afterward, the term "Palestinian" referred to Jewish citizens.

Far from "c[oming] under Israel rule", as the text states, Arabs who remained in Israel instead of moving to other areas in 1948 became full citizens of Israel. Depicting citizens with voting and civil rights as being "forced" to live in their own nation is like describing Americans as being 'forced to live under U.S. rule'. Why does the text portray Israeli citizens in those terms? The only possible rationale is to delegitimatize Israel - something the book does to no other nation, including brutal totalitarian dictatorships.

With respect to Arabs living in the West Bank/Judea and Samaria, 97% live under the rule of their elected representative, the Palestinian Authority. Regarding a "homeland and self-governance" for Arab Palestinians, the book fails to note that pursuant to the Balfour Declaration, Jordan was intended to be and is the Palestinian Arab homeland.

There are many other inaccuracies and omissions relating to Arab-Israeli relations. For example, the book claims that Israel "tripled its size" after the Six-Day War. Nowhere is it mentioned that the territory was won in the context of a defensive war, or that almost all of that territory was returned by Israel in the hope of peace - a sacrifice which was not always realized.

Contrary to the book's depiction, there is indisputable evidence that the intifadas of 1987-1993 and 2000-2010 were not spontaneous uprisings but planned by Arab leadership. There is no mention that in both time periods, as many or more Arabs were killed by other Arabs in political violence than by Israeli troops, nor of the 1,000-plus Israeli civilians murdered during this time period. There is also no mention that what stopped the loss of life on both sides was the much-maligned fence between Israeli and Palestinian Arab areas.

Most important, the book claims that the PLO has recognized Israel. The claim is completely untrue. Senior PLO and PA officials have all stated and continue to state that they will "never" accept Israel. This major error needs to be corrected by all teachers of the course.

It is disturbing that Newton schools purchase and use textbooks that paint a one-sided picture of Arab-Israeli relations and which falsely demonize Israel. This is not the first time it has happened in Newton. Students have received handouts with false, anti-Israel claims; there has been extensive use of Saudi-funded class materials; and a high school library recommended a website claiming that Jews think they have "special rights and entitlements". A book used in a history honors section states that the Catholic church is "considering re-introducing polygamy as a Christian option" and cites with approval a book claiming that the late astronaut Neil Armstrong was subject to a government conspiracy to suppress his supposed conversion to Islam. Students view films that inaccurately cite information about readily obtainable facts (i.e. population figures) and are more propaganda than probative. Our students, and all Newton residents, deserve better.