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Sunday, May 19, 2024
Education

Gov. Greg Abbott directs Texas schools to resources for teaching about Israel-Hamas war

As tensions have flared in the escalating conflict and protests have spread across Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that the Texas Education Agency would provide resources to schools to counter misinformation and antisemitism.

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Gov. Greg Abbott urged Texas schools Friday to utilize additional resources provided by the Texas Education Agency in teaching about the Israel-Hamas war.

In a statement on Friday, Abbott said Texas “stands strong with Israel and our Jewish neighbors,” and that the state will work to prevent “misinformation and prejudice” that could “undermine the support the Jewish community needs during this time of conflict.”

The resources include materials about the history of the conflict from the Institute for Curriculum Studies, an organization that provides instructional materials on Jewish history, and a guide to having “conscientious conversations” from the Anti-Defamation League, an anti-hate organization that works to counter antisemitism.

Also included is an article on U.S. policy toward Israel and the Palestinian territories from New York City-based think tank the Council on Foreign Relations and a resource for how parents should talk to their children about violence from Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that helps parents choose age-appropriate entertainment and media options. These resources will be available for Texas schools in addition to existing curriculum on Israel, antisemitism, genocide and the Holocaust, according to the governor’s statement.

“Working together, we can eliminate the ignorance that spurs antisemitism and bigotry through knowledge and truth,” Abbott said in the statement.

Following Hamas’ attacks against Israel on Oct. 7 that left about 1,400 people dead and another 200 taken hostage, the longstanding conflict between Israel and the militant Palestinian group Hamas has drawn renewed attention, with President Joe Biden calling for Congress to approve additional military aid for Israel during a primetime address Thursday evening.

The nonprofit American Muslims for Palestine has called upon the U.S. government to support a ceasefire and “address the root cause of violence, that is, Israel’s apartheid regime, and specifically in Gaza, Israel’s brutal siege and blockade.” The group helped organize a vigil in Dallas Wednesday night to honor the 1,500 children who have been killed by Israeli strikes in Gaza since Oct. 7, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Abbott’s announcement is his latest move to demonstrate his support for Israel, after praising the decision of a Hilton hotel in Houston for canceling a conference hosted by the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights earlier this week. The USCPR, headquartered in Washington, D.C., posted a statement to its website Wednesday condemning the Texas governor for his post on social media saying it “dehumanized Palestinians.”

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has persisted for 75 years. But recently, violence in the region has intensified with Israel launching airstrikes and reportedly preparing for a ground invasion of Gaza, a densely populated and impoverished area at the border of Israel and Egypt on the Mediterranean Sea.

Across Texas, demonstrations in support of Israelis and many others in support of Palestinians have sprung up. Many groups are calling for an immediate ceasefire to stop a ground invasion of Gaza and say Israel is needlessly punishing innocent civilians.

Those who support Israel say their aim is not to harm civilians, but to eliminate the militant group Hamas, which often embeds among the civilian population. The Texas-Israel Alliance helped organize a rally outside the Capitol in Austin on Sunday. Toba Hellerstein, the group’s CEO, said on Friday that Abbott’s announcement made her more hopeful that something is being done to counter misinformation and antisemitism.

“It gives me an immediate sense of having more safety,” Hellerstein said.

The Texas Education Agency did not respond to questions from The Texas Tribune, but in an announcement, the agency said the materials are an optional resource for educators and parents to help students better understand the conflict.

“It is important to help our students learn about the roots of the conflict and how to report incidents of hate speech and/or acts of violence,” the TEA said.

This article in this post was originally published on the Texas Tribune website and parts of it are republished here, with permission under Creative Commons.

 

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