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Qatar is pushing anti-Israel views on U.S. students with money and “cultural programs”


Hamas’s biggest supporter is not only giving billions of undocumented dollars to elite universities for the purpose of fostering antisemitism, but it’s also funding programs in K-12 public schools that provide educational materials that, literally, wipe Israel off the map.

On the heels of a report from the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP) finding that foreign countries are sending billions of dollars in undocumented funding to U.S. universities and colleges, tweets were discovered showing evidence of similar foreign payments, interference, and propaganda by the government of Qatar in K-12 classrooms.

In public schools in both New York and Texas, some teachers now display a map of the Middle East that labels the country of Israel as “Palestine.” This is happening at a time when pro-Palestinian protesters are flooding the streets of New York and other major cities, as well as on college campuses, chanting such genocidal slogans as “From the River to the Sea,” which is a call to drive Jews out of their country and literally wipe Israel off the map.

Israel has been at war with Hamas since October 7, when the terror group that controls the Gaza Strip poured into Israel, attacking and killing thousands of Jewish civilians and taking hundreds more hostage.

Qatar both finances Hamas activities and harbors Hamas leaders.

The controversy within the K-12 schools began when a photo was released of a map sans Israel in a classroom at PS 261, a public school in New York City. The classroom is used by Rita Lahoud, a Palestinian-American teacher Rita Lahoud who teaches pre-K and elementary school students the “Arab Culture Arts” program.

That program is funded by Qatar Foundation International (QFI). QFI is the American arm of the Qatar Foundation, which is owned by the ruling family of Qatar.

 According to the Daily Mail, a profile on QFI’s website featured Lahoud explaining her approach to teaching the “Arab Culture Arts Program.”

“It’s a unique, multidisciplinary, project-based program that teaches the Arabic language through art,” she stated. “This is so important in today’s political and social climate. Education programs like ours can go a long way in changing perceptions, and in giving children the necessary tools to refute stereotypes.”

However, when the Freedom Center attempted to view a profile on the QFI website called “Rita Lahoud–Teaching the Arabic Language Through Art,” it had been removed. Searching for Lahoud on the QFI website also delivered no results.

QFI claims that it seeks to make learning the Arabic language more accessible.

The map included the heading: “Arab World.” QFI posted a picture of the map last year with a post saying, “We love seeing #Arabic classroom decorations!”

The Free Press reported that the map was produced by Ruman, an Arab education company that has made posts on Instagram decrying alleged violence by Israel.

When the Free Press asked Department of Education spokesperson Nathaniel Styer if the map remained in the classroom following Hamas’s assault on Israel, he replied, “Why would it not be?” He added, “This is a map of countries that speak Arabic.”

Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., who represents the district in which the school is located, stated, “I am deeply concerned about this issue and we are working to determine why this map is on display, if the map was approved by the [Department of Education], and whether the exclusion of Israel is a part of the class’s curriculum.”

The Department of Education claims the map has now been removed.

QFI has given the New York Department of Education more than $1 million in the last few years. In 2019 and 2020 it gave more than $241,000 for programs in two schools. That number increased to $275,000 in 2021. The amount rose to $513,000 in 2022.

At Manara Academy, a public charter school in Irving, Texas, another map was displayed. QFI posted pictures of a teacher wearing a hijab who hand-painted the map and then hung it in front of the class. Israel was, once again, nowhere on the map. QFI posted, “Students from Manara Academy in Texas #CelebrateArabic by ‘traveling’ around the Arab world, right from their classroom!”

Critics say that such funding is intended to influence American politics and society by targeting the young as they formulate their belief system. Increasingly this money is coming from authoritarian regimes in the Middle East. The ISGAP report, for example, found that Qatar was the largest foreign contributor to U.S. universities, providing $2.7 billion of the $15.7 billion in total donated monies between 2014 and 2019. The organization’s investigation, begun in 2019, found that none of this money was reported to the U.S. Department of Education.

Further analysis found that schools, among them Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Harvard, and MIT, that received undocumented funds from authoritarian regimes were more likely to see a rise in antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment, along with a deterioration in free speech and aggressive efforts to punish and censor those with dissenting views. Notably, those schools saw higher rates of students who believe and say that “Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish country.”

Andrés Spokoiny, president of the Jewish Funders Network, raised questions about Qatar funding programs in schools. “I love Arabic culture and I think it’s great that it’s taught in schools. But this program is funded by Qatar, the main sponsor of Hamas. Is it okay to have foreign governments putting programs in public schools?’ he asked.

“NYC Schools do parents know that this is a Qatar-funded program? I mean, what’s the policy? Can Israel fund the teaching of Jewish history in NY public schools? Does France teach French culture? Given Qatar’s record of human rights violations, corruption, and support of terror, one can (and should) raise the question.”

Foreign countries attempting to influence American education by using benign organizations and programs that promise to advance virtuous ideas and ends, like peace, cultural understanding, and tolerance, is nothing new. In reality, they are promoting what is known as “soft power,” or a way to infiltrate and shape the minds and beliefs of American society through the use of propaganda.

 The Soviets had an outsize influence on American campuses during the Cold War using such tactics, of course, but they were at least underhanded about it.

In more recent years, countries have gotten brazen about it. Starting in 2004, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began putting its own teachers and programming into American schools in the guise of the Confucius Institute, an extracurricular program designed to teach American students “Chinese language and culture.” At its height in 2019, more than 100 Confucius Institutes (called Confucius Classrooms at the K-12 level) were operating in schools and universities across the U.S. After a series of investigations found that the CCP was propagandizing students and even accessing and collecting confidential information, Congress restricted federal funding to schools that continued to offer these programs, forcing school officials to close them down. Today, there are less than 10 operating in the U.S., but the effort to influence and indoctrinate American schoolchildren continues.

Now, we know that Qatar and other Middle Eastern authoritarian regimes are funneling massive amounts of money and programming into U.S. schools beginning at the youngest ages — all to instill antisemitic prejudices and hatred.

The ISGAP report and QFI programs in the classroom show that it’s having the desired impact.

Qatar sponsors Hamas, a terrorist group that governs Gaza and the Palestinians who reside there. This type of hostile nation should have no influence on American students’ views on Israel and the Middle East. The QFI is teaching students that Israel is not a nation and that the land belongs to the non-existent country of Palestine. Hamas and many of the Palestinians want to see Israel destroyed, and their supporters around the world have done an excellent job persuading young audiences that the Palestinian people are oppressed and that Israel is their oppressor.

In other words, the rampant antisemitism and support for Hamas we are now seeing on college campuses — and the unwillingness of some college administrators to call it out — is being instilled as early as pre-K.

American students are already being hit daily with left-wing political propaganda, whether it’s Critical Race Theory, LGBTQ ideologies, socialism, climate hysteria, or deceptive facts about America’s founding and history. But now parents have to be concerned that their students are being molded into antisemites. The situation on our college campuses, and even in our K-12 schools, show that these fears are not an exaggeration.

At no time has it been more critically important for parents to be involved in their child’s school and know what their children are being taught. The propaganda and indoctrination, however, is so ubiquitous that parents should, if at all possible, find a way to give their child an alternative to the public school system.

Children need to be taught the truth, not propaganda from hostile nations. Otherwise, they too will one day be marching in the street, attacking Jews and demanding the destruction of Israel.

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