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March 23, 2009

Kids’ Scholastic News Magazine Obfuscates Gaza


Certain editions of the Feb. 16, 2009 issue of Scholastic News (an 80 year-old magazine) contained an article, "Working for Peace," purporting to explain how "U.S. leaders work to end conflict in a war-torn region" which is to say, the Gaza conflict. The article was aimed at fourth, fifth, and sixth-grade children. The article is not on-line.

The article’s key section, “Violence Breaks Out,? is likely to lead young readers to erroneously conclude that Israel is a culprit in this conflict:

In late December, Israel began bombing a neighboring territory called the Gaza Strip, which is home to Palestinians. Israel also sent soldiers there. The attack was against Hamas, the group that has run the Gaza Strip since 2007. Hamas does not accept the existence of Israel. Israel said it had attacked because Hamas was firing rockets into cities and towns in southern Israel. Hamas said it was doing that to end Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. That blockade has prevented people and most goods from entering or leaving it.

Scholastic declined to consider revising the article's key section, issuing this statement (from Kyle Good, V.P. Corporate Communications) on March 19: "As with all of our news articles, 'Working for Peace' was written using multiple sources, including our own original reporting, and then fact-checked using primary source materials." The following wording had been suggested to Scholastic as a more accurate, complete explanation:

After approximately 10,000 rocket firings from Gaza into Israel since August 2005 terrorizing Israeli citizens, and after many warnings by Israel to the terrorists of dire consequences if the rocket attacks didn’t stop - in late December 2008, Israel began to attack rocket-launching terrorists and their weapons smuggling facilities. The group that has run the Gaza Strip since June 2007, Hamas, calls in its charter for the destruction of Israel. Hamas said it was firing rockets into southern Israel to end Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip but the rocket attacks began long before the imposition of Israel’s blockade. Israel says it has to maintain rigorous control over cross-border shipments in order to prevent the smuggling of deadly weaponry and other materials useful to the terrorists. Israel does allow in essential shipments, such as food and medicine.

In addition to use of its “own original reporting? and sourcing, Scholastic should report with accuracy and fairness. Accordingly, Scholastic could provide its readers with a better understanding of Hamas by exposing them to Hamas' anti-Semitic, genocidal charter and key public statements. Would this not be consistent with "helping children around the world to read and learn" as is stated in Scholastic’s mission?

(Hat tip: Temple Emanuel of Andover, Mass.)

Posted by MK at March 23, 2009 05:18 PM


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