Lee Kaplan< wrote in FrontPage magazine Several months ago, as part of an investigation into allegations of anti-Israel indoctrination, I completed a course called “Politics of the Middle East” 155B at Diablo Valley College in northern California.
In a detailed article for Frontpagemag about my experiences, I revealed that the professor of the course, an imam named Amer Araim, had taught things that were patently untrue and that one would expect to find in the classrooms of totalitarian Middle East societies like Saudi Arabia or Iran. (Among other historically illiterate claims, he informed students that, throughout its war for independence, Israel boasted a military superior to the invading Arab armies.)
If that was true, then why were the Arabs foolish enough to invade?Shortly after the publication of that article, I met with Mark Edelstein, the president of Diablo Valley College. Edelstein also arranged for the Vice President of Academic Affairs, Alice Murillo, who is responsible for course content at the college, to attend the meeting. I asked Edelstein if he’d read my article after I completed the course. He said he had.
I began the meeting by saying, “The reason I wanted to meet and speak with you is not as an investigative journalist, but as a member of the community. I live here. I feel that the man you have teaching does not belong in the classroom, and if you are going to continue offering this class, you need to get someone who can teach truthfully to the students, not lie to them or give them false information. If you can’t find someone to replace him, you should not offer the class.” “I don’t think you or I will ever agree on how to conduct higher education,” Edelstein replied. Besides, he said, having someone like Araim teach a course offered a broader education to students at the college.
Would they be interested in having David Duke teach a course in Black History? It would certainly broaden their education.
I found this line of argument unpersuasive. “Araim,” I noted, “taught students in the class that Jews and Christians are not persecuted in the Arab countries of the Middle East. He also told the class that women are not stoned in Iran.” I asked Vice President Murillo whether she was aware that this was a common practice in Islamic countries. She replied she had not heard about such things.
She certainly is not well read.I was taken aback by that response. After all, she was responsible for the course content. “These things are reported about constantly in the newspapers,” I said. “I don’t mean to be offensive, but I’m appalled that as an academic responsible for choosing what is taught about the Middle East, and who is responsible over the faculty to teach that, that you are unaware of such things.” Murillo was unmoved. “There are lots of things in the newspaper,” she replied.
True, and does she believe everything the MSM publishes?I tried a different tack: “Do you think it broadens students’ education when the instructor lies to them or teaches them things that are considered only acceptable in the totalitarian societies of the Middle East? The course was patently anti-Israel and to a lesser degree against the United States.” I explained how, in tandem with film professor Ken Valentine (who students have complained is a Marxist ideologue), Araim had shown a two-hour propaganda film produced by the PLO to a captive audience. I then pointed out that the film, which in my view was anti-Semitic, had claimed that boatloads of Jews came to Palestine and stole Arab homes. I also noted that when I attempted to challenge this perspective, by explaining to Professor Araim that the Zionist movement legally purchased all their land prior to 1948 and that Jordan was supposed to be part of Israel, he simply dismissed it as untrue.
That is certainly what the Balfour Declaration called for.Moreover, I said, Araim had repeatedly told students that Israel is an “apartheid” state,
If that was true, why do the Arabs with Jewish citizenship live in the same cities as Jewish residentsand that the terrorist groups Hizbollah and Hamas are “liberation” movements. “He lectured in class that the Sheba Farms in northern Israel was a justifiable reason for Hizbollah to attack Israel. Even the United Nations said Sheba Farms was never part of Lebanon,” I said. I repeated my point: “Don’t you think you instructors have an obligation to teach the truth?” “There are different truths,” replied Edelstein. “The instructor, by teaching from his own perspective, gives the students the ability to develop critical thinking,” he answered. “We allow our instructors to teach from their perspectives.”
If the students are not taught both sides, how are they to think for themselves?“No sir,” I objected, “an instructor can teach his point of view, but he has to back it up with scholarly research and facts. If he lies to the students to get them to adhere to his own opinions, that’s indoctrination.” Araim clearly had no desire to show both sides of the issue, I explained. Whenever the accuracy of his instruction was called into question, he brushed it aside as “propaganda.”