Former Teacher of Muslim Students Speaks Out
Date: 03 Aug 2009
A Former Teacher of Muslim Students Speaks Out
This past spring, at one of the ACT! for America “Citizens in Action” conferences, two of the attendees, independent of each other, spoke to Executive Director Guy Rodgers about their experiences with Muslim students in that city’s public schools.
One was a teacher who said that he had surveyed his Muslim students to see if any of them would disavow the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. He said not one of his Muslim students would.
The second had a friend who was a kindergarten teacher, who described how maintaining classroom order was becoming increasingly difficult when five-year-old Muslim students would tell her “You can’t tell me what to do, infidel pig!”
Perhaps these are exceptions to the typical behavior of Muslim students in our public schools. We certainly hope and would like to believe this is the case. But even if these are exceptions, they illustrate the supremacist and radical ideology at the root of political Islam. If you watched the video we sent you a few weeks ago you saw the “grown-up” face of that ideology in the actions of Muslim “security guards” at the International Arab Festival in Dearborn, Michigan.
Several months ago we received a letter from one of our members, who taught Palestinian and other Arab students in an American public school back in 1979. We share her story with you below. As you read it, keep in mind that this was thirty years ago — and those children are now adults and likely have children of their own.
I was a as a teacher of Palestinian youngsters back between 1979 and 1983. What I experienced then illustrates that what we are seeing today is not suddenly a new development, but rather has been part of a mission that began unfolding years ago. I believe that perhaps my story might shed some insight into their way of thinking, which is different than the way many of us think.
During the Carter administration I suddenly became aware that people from various Middle-Eastern countries were arriving in this country in droves. There were so many Arabic speaking children entering Detroit Public Schools,as well as other school systems in the Detroit area, such as Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Downriver, etc., that there were not enough Arabic speaking teachers to teach them. That is how this Jewish-American, Bilingual (BBE) teacher, whose endorsement was in Spanish, was enlisted, along with a number of other non-Arabic speaking BBE teachers, to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) to these students whose first language was Arabic.
We were given teaching assistants to keep up the children's Arabic. (As an aside, no one could ever tell me why this was necessary since all of the children, even the poorest, went to Arabic School after public school each day).
Before beginning our assignment, teachers such as myself, were required to attend a sensitivity workshop to learn about the culture of our students. I will never forget the first words out of our presenter's mouth (a Lebanese-American woman whose father settled in Detroit during the 1950's), “To understand my people, you must first know and understand our creed: 'You see us with one eye. We see you with two.'”
Two questionable actions that I recall within the last few years that illustrate this point have to do with reconnaissance or surveillance (seeing things well with two eyes).
The first one had to do with an American Muslim man who was picked up by the police for taking photos of the Mackinaw Bridge, in Michigan. This took place outside of tourist season. He was hours and miles from his home in Dearborn and seemingly did not have a good explanation for why he was there.
The other involved a carload of Muslim American men who were found taking photos of Detroit's Water Department, and were thought to be acting suspiciously.
I attended another Arabic sensitivity workshop, a few years later, attended by several hundred people like me – social workers, teachers, and others working with the Arab population. A Dearborn judge was the keynote speaker. He was an Arab-American, who appeared to be born and raised in this country. He told no fewer than two extremely anti-Jewish jokes. I remember thinking to myself, "Why are we supposed to be sensitive to them, when they show no sensitivity to other minorities?" Unfortunately, to my chagrin and shame, I did not have the courage to stand up and ask him that very question. I wish to God that I had!
The aide assigned to work with the children in Arabic was a young woman who turned eighteen sometime during that first year. I explained to her that I was Jewish. We both felt knowlege of this fact might hinder the children's ability to learn from me if they or their parents knew. So it was not divulged to them.
I love teaching and children. I became very fond of my students and their parents, who were generally very charming. Needless to say, it was disconcerting at best, when I asked my students, who were from kindergarten age to sixth graders, to tell me about whatever holiday they had just celebrated. I always heard a similar excited refrain, "Oh, it was great! We got money and candy – and we will have to kill every Jewish man, woman, and baby in the world!"
When I inquired, "Why do you have to kill every Jewish man, woman and baby in the world?"
They replied, "They are our enemy."
Their answer was always exactly the same, "They will grow up to be a soldier."
Most of my students were Palestinian, I had perhaps five to ten from Yemen, a few from Jordan, and two Bedouins, from Israel. Also two girls who had been abducted from their Nicaraguan mother by their father who was Palestinian.
My aide was pretty and a sweet young lady. I was fond of her. I realized that I could have had a daughter that age. We often had lunch together and sometimes her cousin, a young woman, about the same age, would join us. She was an invited guest in my home quite a few times.
I happily threw a party for her at school when she became a U.S. citizen. She was a Shiite Muslim, from Lebanon.
A while after that party, a father of two of my students came into my classroom. Unlike most of my students' fathers, who were blue-collar workers, this man wore a tweed suit and spoke with an Oxford accent. He was handsome, self-possessed and intelligent. He told me that his kids had informed him that there were no Arabic books in my classroom. He wondered if I would be interested in having him order some fun and interesting books, in Arabic, just for the instruction of school-aged children.
About six weeks later he brought a box of books to my room and proudly showed me brand-new, slick, paperback books that were lemon yellow and pictured darling children on the cover as well as within. After he left, I requested that my aide carefully read the books, then give me a synopsis of the content and tell me whether she found them appropriate.
Later that day she came to me and told me, "These are beautiful books! They'd be wonderful for the students."
However, something did not feel right to me. I became increasingly bothered about those books as the day passed. I took one of those books to my supervisor to ask her if she approved of it. She was Chaldean, a Christian woman, originally from Iraq. She looked at the book and kept making shocked noises. Finally, she looked up and exclaimed, "(my first name), you of all people do not want this book taught in your classroom, right under your nose!” For starters, it was published in Libya.
She leafed through the book and came to a picture of a boy and a girl, who looked like scouts, with shorts on, shirts, and ties around their collars, playing in a park that had swings and slides. "What do you see in this picture?" she asked. I told her. Then she inquired, "What do you see in the sky?"
I told her that I had thought it was a plane. "No," she announced, "it is a missile headed to Israel."
She turned to another picture. "Now, what do you see here?"
It was a picture of a classroom, with children, a teacher, Arabic writing on the blackboard. It seemed innocuous, but I spied something in the sky, out of the window. "I suppose that is another missile headed for Israel," I told her.
"No!" her reply startled me, "that is a missile headed to the U.S!!!"
The father who brought me the books returned, during a class period, close to two weeks later. He asked me why the books were not being utilized in the classroom. I explained that all teaching materials used in Detroit's classrooms needed to be given approval before they could be used, and these were turned down. I returned the books to him.
In retrospect, I so wish that I had kept one of those books! I wouldn't be surprised if they were simply taken to another classroom where they could actually still be in use today. Or even brought back to the very classroom I had taught in, after Arabic speaking teachers took my place.
I would be remiss if I did not impart what took place during one lesson in which I taught six, sixth grade boys. We read about Thor Heyerdahl’s excursion from North Africa, in a reed boat, fashioned like pictures seen in ancient tombs, to the Caribbean. He did it to see if such a craft could have made it to the New World. If so, the travelers in it could have influenced the natives of some of those countries to worship a sun god and build pyramids.
He selected six men to participate, each of a different race and religion. The idea was that they were to be dependent on each other in order to survive, as well as to make it succeed - like we all are dependent on one another to survive on the planet Earth.
This experience, recorded in "The National Geographic Magazine," did take place, and was proclaimed a success. After reading about this, five of the six boys proclaimed that they would never agree to go on a boat with a Jew. But one then said that if he did agree to go, he would kill the Jew during the trip. Most of the others thought that was a terrific idea. However, the Jordanian student disagreed with them and said he thought it would be a fascinating experiment.
This made me realize that there are Muslims who think for themselves, who are trying to survive as we are, who have good hearts and have integrity. In my opinion, this is why we are obligated to stand by, stand up for, and protect in any way we can, those brave Muslim Moderates who are trying to speak for fairness and sanity. Who are grateful for, and appreciate this country for the values it stands for. Who are not interested in overthrowing it and turning it into an Islamic entity.
It is frightening to realize that there have been children raised in this country, for at least the last thirty years, that have been inculcated to hate this country and all non-believers. Children that may have been instructed to think this way in our own public schools, as well as in their Arabic schools.
I told friends, family members, and anyone I thought would listen, way back in the early 80's, that there would be trouble in twenty or thirty years in this country if the influx of these people wouldn't be checked. That we were creating a “Fifth Column.”
I am glad that I finally made a written record of what I saw and experienced years ago. I was put in a rather unique place in time and had the opportunity to realize things that many Americans, including my own Jewish people, can’t understand or don’t want to. Unfortunately, so many are in denial.
I would rather have been completely wrong about my fears, conclusions, and concerns back then, than be right. They have brought me thirty years of grief and worry. I pray that ACT for America will help keep my fears from becoming a reality. Thankfully, from what I can see about ACT I am grateful to say I think it’s possible.
ACT for America
P.O. Box 12765
Pensacola, FL 32591