Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Palestinian Hip-Hop Group Comparing Israelis to Nazis Performs for Oregon Public High School Students

An online petition has been landing in the inboxes of pro-Israel Americans this month, many of whom are expressing shock at the Portland public school system for allowing a Palestinian hip-hop group with offensive lyrics justifying terrorism and comparing Israelis to Nazis to perform at a city high school.

The group, named DAM, was invited to perform at Lincoln High School last month. Simply knowing the band’s name, DAM – blood in Arabic and Hebrew – raises serious questions why school officials would position this group in front of impressionable students. Their lyrics raise even more questions about the judgment of these school officials.

Sponsored by Portland State University Christians United for Israel, the petition states:
The lyrics demonize Israeli Jews, calling them rapists and Nazis, justifying terrorism against them.. (”You’re a Democracy? It’s more like the Nazis…Your raping of the Arab soul gave birth to your child: The suicide bomber.”) These lyrics are threatening to Jewish students at Lincoln, and do not represent the mainstream opinions of Palestinians and Arab Israelis.

A sample of the group’s work: one DAM song called “Min Irhabi” or “Who’s a Terrorist?” is filled with anti-Israel propaganda and in-your-face lyrics, that many parents – regardless of their political stripe – would just as soon not have their children get a free helping of at school. With these few lines, one gets the picture:
Who’s a terrorist? I’m a terrorist?
How am I a terrorist while I live in my country
Who’s a terrorist? You’re a terrorist!
You’re swallowing me while I live in my country
Killing me like you killed my ancestors […]
Click here to find out more!

Democracy? I swear you’re Nazis
With all the times you raped the Arab spirit
It got pregnant and birthed a boy called the suicide bomber
And here you are calling us terrorists

The petitioners say even though students and parents voiced their concerns about the band’s content to the school board, the board went ahead with the performance, “despite the physical and emotional fears of the students.” The petition is asking the school board to apologize and assure students that “events with hate speech will not be tolerated again. Presently, the school board has found no breach in Lincoln High School’s policies on hate speech.”

The Jewish Review reported on the November 4th concert at a Lincoln High School student assembly. Teachers tried to prepare classes before attending the assembly. One teacher didn’t bring his class, because he felt he didn’t have enough time to prepare them. Students reported the event lasted an hour with band members speaking English, but some of the lyrics were not translated. The report did not say if the song “Who’s a Terrorist” was performed. One attendee said many “asked the trio what they thought could be done to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:”
“One of their answers that really bothered me was that they said the land of Israel should not be controlled by a Jewish government. It seems innocuous on the surface, because it looks like they are advocating for fairness and equality.” But what “went over a lot of heads at the assembly,” she explained, was that if there is no Jewish state, then eventually there will be no Jews in the Middle East. There is currently “only one Jewish country” among all the Muslim/Arab ones, she said, and “they are saying that the Jewish state doesn’t have the right to exist.”

[A Wilson high school student who also attended, Jewish Student Union President Becky] Davidson said that a lot of kids in the audience “just didn’t know. They were like, ‘Yeah, we want equality, too.’ It’s really idealistic, but it’s not the reality.”

After the rappers’ comments, Davidson said that [student Shoshi] Singer heard a girl in the audience say, “Oh, my God, I hate Israel! It so sucks.”

According to Davidson, when DAM members said, “We need to have equality for all people in Israel” they suggested that this would be accomplished when Israel was no longer a Jewish state.

The Jewish Review also reports the school allowed a panel discussion on November 1st to address concerns over the hip hop group’s invitation. The assembly three days later was called “optional,” meaning teachers could decide if to bring their students.

It reports the public school’s Arab Studies Program is funded by Qatar Foundation International, which also sponsored the hip hop group’s visit to the high school. Last year, Israeli, Spanish and British newspapers reported that the Qatar Foundation had given money to extremist Muslim cleric Yusuf al Qaradawi who advocates “terrorism, wife beating and anti-Semitism” and that the foundation gives money to the terrorist group Hamas:
Michael Cahana, senior rabbi for Congregation Beth Israel, attended the panel discussion as the rabbi of many families whose children attend Lincoln. He said, “This is not a free speech issue; it is an educational issue. Certainly from a Jewish perspective the lyrics of DAM’s songs promote terrorism, which strikes me as really inappropriate to bring them to a high school. To have a vibrant discussion [outside of a school] makes sense. But when you bring a group into a classroom” or, in this case an assembly, “it carries a certain responsibility. And I don’t see that responsibility being met.” […]

From the sidelines Peyton Chapman, Lincoln High School principal, jumped in with, “If the word ‘Nazi’ comes up at the assembly, we’re going to discuss it.” The Holocaust “was an incredible horror. We don’t want to have it repeated.”

If the concert during school hours wasn’t offensive enough, the school’s Arabic teacher, Sarah Standish, posted a notice on her blog to which the school’s website links offering students extra credit if they attended an off-campus screening of a documentary about the group and submitted a 300-word essay about the experience. In the same post she included a letter trying to assure parents that “DAM does not advocate violence of any kind.”

Perhaps a Lincoln senior Emilie Cohen summarized the issue most eloquently:
“My biggest concern is that our principal is supposed to keep us physically and emotionally safe. And with this group and their published videos it makes me feel like they hate Jews; they hate Israelis. I personally don’t feel emotionally safe knowing that these people – who hate me without even knowing me – come into my public school, spreading their message. …why would our principal allow this group to come in?”

The anti-Israeli curricula and atmosphere on American college campuses has faced scrutiny in recent years; this Portland case suggests there may also be a growing problem in K-12 schools.

It should be noted the members of DAM are Arab citizens of Israel who identify themselves as Palestinian. Their opinion of the city where they were raised – Lod, next to Ben-Gurion International Airport – is that it’s occupied Palestinian territory, not Israel. Or, in other words: there is no place in their world view for Jews to have their national homeland.


The school where pupils have etiquette lessons: British government school hires expert to teach students how to get a job

A state school is hiring an etiquette expert to teach teenage pupils how to act and dress to get a job. The day-long course covers posture, how to 'dress for success', speaking clearly and using the right cutlery.

There is even guidance on the correct way to eat asparagus, spaghetti and the tricky consumption of shell prawns.

The 16 to 18-year-olds at the co-educational Bishop Heber School, in Malpas, Cheshire, will also learn how to enter a room and greet people properly.

Headteacher David Curry said. 'On paper everyone is the same - the only discerning difference is what an interviewer sees in person. That ability to carry yourself is hugely important. “The children don’t find it patronising, they are genuinely eager to take these skills on.”

Mr Curry asked the company Public Image to organise the course - due to be held next month - after a talk on the importance of social skills from an outside speaker.

The pupils will be filmed doing role play exercises which they can then watch to see how they are coming across to employers.

Parents have been asked to pay towards the cost of the course at Bishop Heber. The school, which has over 1,000 pupils, has been rated as outstanding by Ofsted

Diana Mather, managing director of Public Image, said the training helps put state and privately educated pupils on a 'level playing field'.

She told the Daily Telegraph: 'Privately educated students and school boarders are given much more of this sort of training. 'Whether it’s the debating society, school presentations or attending functions with people from older generations, they become more at ease communicating appropriately.

'Women in particular need a bit of help judging what’s appropriate. If girls wear low-cut tops and short skirts to an interview then she’s got to expect some sort of reaction, after all we’re all human.'

Miss Mather, a former television presenter, already runs courses at private schools which include a talk on what is expected of young adults in the 21st century.

Susan Anderson, Confederation of British Industry director for education and skills, said the majority of schools fail to teach pupils what employers are looking for in the workplace. She said: 'Competition for jobs is intense and unemployment remains high, so [schools] need to explain these skills better and make sure they embed them in teaching.'


A world of offers for Australia's brightest students

I tried to persuade my son to go to Oxford for his doctoral studies because of its recognition factor but he eventually decided that an Australian university was the best one in his field

THE answer to the ritual question among school leavers - "where are you going?" - is throwing up some startling answers, as well as a challenge to Australia's leading universities. What began as a trickle is now a small stream of outstanding academic talents using their HSC as a passport to travel.

Rowena Lazar, 18, first in the state in Italian beginners, couldn't pick up her award from the Education Minister last week; she was in Oxford, interviewing for a place for next year. Timothy Large, 17, first in extension two maths, had flown in on the morning of the ceremony from his interview at Cambridge. Harry Stratton, 18, first in classical Greek and Latin, has his heart set on Harvard or Yale.

Large and Stratton, from Sydney Grammar, both secured the highest possible ATAR ranking of 99.95 but neither will complete their undergraduate degree in Australia. And they will be followed by many of their peers. Schools such as Grammar and Queenwood run information nights at which US colleges make their pitches. This year as many as 30 Grammar school-leavers have applied to overseas universities, a figure which has alarmed Australian rivals.

Record numbers of Australians are now studying their first degree in the US, with about 1500 undergraduates at American colleges and universities in the 2010-11 academic year, an increase of 14.6 per cent.

Many leading schools report a growing trend among their best and brightest to aim immediately to begin their tertiary study overseas. "It's definitely increasing and it's confirmation that we measure ourselves on global standards, not on regional or even national ones," said Tom Alegounarias, the president of the NSW Board of Studies.

James Harpur, the principal of Queenwood, said numbers were rising. "This year we've got five UK applications and two to the US," he said. "It's often fuelled by ambition and a desire to broaden their horizons. That's the confidence they have which students didn't have several generations ago. It wasn't on our horizon."

The trend has disturbed domestic universities, which attempt to attract the sharpest minds with lucrative scholarships. But Mr Harpur said departures were motivated by ambition rather than a belief there was "anything inherently wrong with Sydney universities".

Sydney University and the University of NSW target top performers with scholarships, some exclusively for those with the highest ATAR in the state.

The University of Sydney Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education), Derrick Armstrong, said: "We would argue that we were one of the leading universities in the world. The education here is very high quality in a research intensive environment." However, he said it was understandable students would seek the opportunity to study overseas.

Peter Taylor, the executive director of the Australian Mathematics Trust, said an increasing number of Maths Olympiad students were heading overseas, particularly to Cambridge University, but they were not necessarily getting a better education.

"It's a perception they've got, but I can't see why, because for instance Sydney University runs an outstanding course for high flyers. They're absolutely in as good quality company as anywhere else."

Professor Taylor said some were attracted to a degree from Cambridge's Trinity College as a status symbol. "If someone's determined to go to Trinity, it's pretty hard to stop them."

Tyson Churcher, 17, from Northern Beaches Christian School, wants to study maths at Cambridge. He's just back from an exam and interview. "The opportunity to study at Cambridge would be enormous. You can't really call any university the best but it's certainly up there," he said.

Tyson, shortlisted for a scholarship at UNSW, has applied for a scholarship at Cambridge. He's unsure what to do if he is accepted. "I would have to think about it because the cost is certainly daunting but the opportunity is great," he said.


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