On October 25, 2022, the Jewish News Syndicate reported that Newark Public Schools added an antisemitic book to its “mandatory curriculum.” The news outlet reported:
The book A Little Piece Of Ground by Elizabeth Laird was included in the sixth-grade English curriculum for the 2022-23 school year. The book, targeted at young adults, is accused of pushing anti-Israel propaganda and conveying a biased view of Israel to impressionable children.
Amazon’s description of the book explains that it “explores the human cost of the occupation of Palestinian lands through the eyes of a young boy.” The Jewish News Syndicate continued to report that “critics charge that the book portrays Palestinians as victims and Israelis as hostile oppressors.” The news outlet then discussed a concerned letter sent to the school district’s superintendent:
The letter quotes several passages from the book that critics claim are problematic, including, “[T]he Israelis won’t be happy until they’ve driven us all out and grabbed every inch of Palestine for themselves,” and that Israeli soldiers are “playing with us. They’re the cats and we’re the mice.” It adds that Israelis are described as “the enemy,” “occupiers” and “animals.”
The Jewish News Syndicate reported that the district’s communications director “said the curriculum is periodically reviewed as required.” The news outlet reported that she said that the book “is in alignment with New Jersey Student Learning Standards” and that the curriculum “elevates historically marginalized voices, strengthens and sustains a focus on the instructional core and provides opportunities to learn about perspectives beyond one’s own scope.”
The news outlet then reported: “As part of the lesson plan for the book, the curriculum guide originally included an introductory video by Jewish Voice for Peace—a BDS-supporting left-wing group—that teachers can choose to show students.” The Jewish News Syndicate then explained:
In the video, Jews are painted as oppressors who are stealing other people’s land. It claims that Arab Israelis are “second-class citizens” and that Israel “demolished thousands of Palestinian homes and orchards, confiscated Palestinian land, bombed a captive population in Gaza and punished resistance with raids, arrests and assassinations, all to gain maximum land.”
The video was reportedly removed from the lesson plan at a later date.