The book, “From Palestine to Seattle: Becoming Neighbors and Friends,” is billed as a “storybook on Israel and Palestine” for children 6 through 12. This is no benign Sunday school text, however. It is a well-crafted bit of propaganda that portrays Israeli security checkpoints as the cause, not the result, of Palestinian violence. This message is underscored by the teacher’s manual marketed along with the storybook.FrontPage Magazine described the same book last month and it is even worse than described here:
The storybook describes adventures of two children from Seattle -- Allison and Matthew -- whose father, a Protestant minister, has just returned from a visit to Bethlehem.
...When Allison and Matthew see a checkpoint for themselves as they travel to Bethlehem, they are “shocked to see a barricade across the road, with sandbags and barrels lining the street. Looking up they saw a soldier with a gun sitting in a watchtower!”
The image accompanying this part of the story shows five soldiers standing around the van in which Allison and Matt are riding and a sixth soldier standing in a guard tower nearby. The image of barbed wire, guard shacks, sandbags and menacing armed soldiers surrounding a brightly-colored van filled with innocent children is reminiscent concentration camps in Eastern Europe in the 1940s.
...The lesson then ends with this coda [in the teacher's guide]: “Remind the children that when people are denied things that they believe everyone should have, they feel bad and sometimes become angry, too. Invite the remaining children to get juice and grapes from the refreshment table.”
The implication is undeniable. Suicide bombings -- which are not described anywhere in the either the storybook or the teacher’s manual -- are the consequence of Israeli checkpoints, which deny the Palestinians “the things that they believe everyone should have” and in turn make “people feel bad and sometimes become angry.” The impression the children are left with is that if the Israelis took down the checkpoints, Miriam, the young Israeli would no longer be frightened of bombs going off in her neighborhood.
The Arab boy, Tarek, has never been to McDonald's because the closest one is in Jerusalem, and travel there requires a pass by the Israelis. Naturally, the American children are disturbed. In an ongoing pen pal exchange, Tarek asks the American children why their country thinks all Palestinians are terrorists. The Americans are embarrassed. They summon up the nerve to ask Tarek why passes are needed to travel to Jerusalem.Apparently, there is only one side to the story according to the Methodists, and it is identical to the side of the people who hand out candies when Jews are blown up.
Tarek responds that Israeli soldiers require passes, and that Palestinians without them are turned away, whether they are going to their jobs, or to hospitals. “How can people be so unfair?” the American children ask their pastor father. The father is unsure how to answer. But he helps them begin another correspondence with a little Israeli girl, who recounts that her cousin, an Israeli soldier, has been imprisoned for refusing to guard the “checkpoints” because “they were wrong and they were hurting people.”