Several Israel advocacy groups and parents have rebuked the school board of Newark, New Jersey for adding an anti-Israel book to its mandatory curriculum.
Titled A Little Piece Of Ground by Elizabeth Laird, the book in question was included in the sixth-grade English curriculum for the 2022-23 school year. The book, targeted at young adults, is accused of pushing anti-Israel propaganda and conveying a biased view of Israel to impressionable children.
According to the book’s description, A Little Piece Of Ground “explores the human cost of the occupation of Palestinian lands through the eyes of a young boy.” As it stands, the book portrays Palestinians as victims and Israelis as hostile oppressors.
After the introduction of the book to the curriculum, the Zionist Organization of America demanded that the book be removed from the curriculum. “The book is filled with misleading anti-Israel statements and outright lies,” wrote ZOA’s National President Morton Klein and Susan Tuchman, director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice. “Instead of building an understanding of a complex subject, fighting prejudice and encouraging tolerance, this book will poison impressionable children—with little if any knowledge about the complicated Middle East conflict—to hate Jews, Israelis and the State of Israel.”
“On the surface, Laird’s book is a story about Karim, a Palestinian Arab child living in Ramallah, a city located in what is commonly referred to as the West Bank. Readers see the world through Karim’s eyes and experiences,” ZOA wrote. “But Laird is clever, repeatedly sending the false and outrageous message to her young readers that Israelis are heartless and cruel, that their goal is to humiliate Palestinian Arabs and make their lives a misery and that Jews are stealing other people’s land.”
“After reading the book, students will wrongly believe that Jews and Israelis are monsters, that they are interlopers, stealing the land of others when, in fact, Jews are indigenous to the Land of Israel,” ZOA wrote. “Students will also come away thinking that terrorism and violence against innocent Jews and Israelis are legitimate and even desirable; Laird repeatedly refers to terrorists who have harmed and murdered Jews and Israelis as heroes and martyrs.”
Roz Rothstein, CEO of the Israel education organization StandWithUs and a daughter of Holocaust survivors, said assigning the book promotes “propaganda that dehumanizes Israelis and paints a distorted picture of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Given the alarming rise in anti-Semitic activity across the country, we would hope that educational institutions would take steps to counter the problem, not add to it.”