A Boston University professor has defended to WND his creation of a Common Core-compliant lesson plan that uses role-playing workshops to teach students to sympathize with Hamas, create a Palestinian state and divide the city of Jerusalem.
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Professor Carl Hobert's "Whose Jerusalem?" project has been lauded by those at the pinnacle of the education establishment as an important work that will, in the words of Boston University School of Education Dean Hardin Coleman, "help students acquire the skills they need" in conflict resolution "to be successful in the 21st century."
But the role-playing exercises have also come under fire recently from pro-Israel groups. One group, Boston-based Americans for Peace and Tolerance headed by Charles Jacobs, released a 27-minute documentary film last month that derides Hobert's project as an "attempt to indoctrinate" rather than educate.
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The role-playing games where students pretend to represent Arab, Israeli or American interests have been used in hundreds of high schools across America, Hobert told WND. Last year, the program was added to the Common Core-approved list of curricula and received Race to the Top funding from the U.S. Department of Education. The workshop is presented in many schools as part of a "global education" initiative, which is a strong focus of Common Core-compliant curricula.
Creating activists in the classroom?
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The "global citizen" approach to teaching social studies has been adopted not only in public schools but many private and religious schools as well. Hobert is seen in APT's documentary, for example, describing the merits of his course work at St. Margaret's Episcopal School, a college-prep school in California.
Hobert admits on camera in the documentary that his mission in designing "Whose Jerusalem?" goes beyond educating students. He hopes to turn them into activists.
Hobert believes in "educational, civil disobedience, where students are learning about the Middle East, and they're putting pressure on our government to create a Palestinian state," he told Qatar-owned Al Jazeera TV in March 2012.
Of particular interest to Hobert is an attempt to reach Jewish students and turn them against the state of Israel, according to the APT documentary.
"When a student goes, 'I am devoutly Jewish and I’ve got family members in Israel, I would like to be a member of Likud Party,' guess what we make that student? A member of Hamas," Hobert said.
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But Hobert told WND in a phone interview Wednesday that this is only part of the story.
He said he would be just as adamant in putting an Arab student in the position of having to role-play on the Israeli side of the issue. He said Jacobs made his documentary based on old information and the charges of brainwashing are unfair, even deceitful.
Hobert said he has had a 30-year passion for teaching conflict-resolution to students and that passion came together several years ago in the "Whose Jerusalem?" role-playing workshop. To receive federal funding, he said he made it more broad-based and suitable for classes in world history II, Middle Eastern studies, contemporary world history, "and what most people would call global issues in grades 9 through 12."
The six role players are Likud, Labor, Fatah, Hamas, the Arab league, which represents the countries around Israel, and the quartet made up of the U.S., U.N., Russia and European Union.
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"Those are the six role plays and in each you get four pages of confidential instructions. As you try to divide Jerusalem, each of those groups would be one table with 10 students around it," Hobert said. "It's neat. Students are looking at many issues around the world, and they're not brainwashed. They're taught to look at many possibilities as opposed to black and white."
He said the program was inspired by the concepts of "experiential education" advocated by the likes of John Dewey, Montessori, and the Model United Nations program that has been taught in schools for decades.
"It is not to indoctrinate; it is to have students engage in conflict resolution so they learn negotiating skills," he said. "So Charles Jacobs' claims, when he's using old material, and saying it's to indoctrinate, are a lie."
Decide for yourself. Watch the documentary critical of "Whose Jerusalem?" by Americans for Peace and Tolerance:
Critics such as Jacobs and APT say the program "whitewashes terrorism, promotes an anti-Israel and anti-American political agenda, and encourages young people to sympathize with Hamas," reported the College Fix.
Hamas is on the U.S. State Department's list of designated foreign terrorist organizations. The Islamic terrorist group has in its charter a call for the elimination of the state of Israel, meaning it wants a "one-state" solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
"Whose Jerusalem?" fails "to meet the basic rules of evidence and logic and attempt[s] to indoctrinate students, especially Jewish students, against the state of Israel," according to the APT documentary.
Schools going global with support of U.N.
By incorporating globalist principles into the curriculum, students are taught to be good "citizens of the world" as opposed to good citizens of America, whose sovereign status is seen as subservient to that of the United Nations and other global institutions, said Alex Newman, co-author of a new book, "Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians are Using Government Schools to Destroy America's Children."
"It is really amazing how open and transparent the U.N. and especially UNESCO, led by an actual communist, has become in its 'global citizen' indoctrination programs," Newman said, referring to Irina Bokova, a Bulgarian communist and current UNESCO chief.
These attempts to globalize the classrooms and turn students against the idea of being Americans first have been hiding in plain view for a long time, Newman said, yet he's seen very little push-back from states or local school boards. That's probably because the curricula comes with federal funding, and states are always looking for ways to augment their budgets with federal dollars.
"All over their websites, they brag about transforming children's attitudes, views, beliefs and behavior using so-called education," Newman said. "They've been doing this openly for decades, as we show, using primary-source documents, in 'Crimes of the Educators.'"
Obama's secretary of education, Arne Duncan, even boasts that, "with UNESCO as his 'global partner,' they are using government schools to indoctrinate students, even calling education a 'weapon' to 'change the world,'" Newman said. "This should be very disturbing to anyone who values liberty, Judeo-Christian values, biblical religion, national sovereignty, and the principles America was founded upon. It needs to be exposed and shut down."
Hobert is an academic leader in the push toward "global citizenship." He created his nonprofit, "Axis of Hope," in 2002 to, as he says, "teach youth in their formative years of life what I call preventative diplomacy; how to work together as a team to prevent conflict. Are they going to prevent conflict, or are they going to get out there and try to make a lot of money, and exacerbate conflict?"
Boston University has supported Hobert's Axis of Hope vision but recommended he change the name to the Global Literacy Institute. Teachers from around the world will be able to come and learn from Hobert how to teach their students to resolve problems on a global, national and local level, he said.
No Chomsky involvement, Hobert says
APT says Hobert has admitted to receiving guidance for "Whose Jerusalem?" from anti-Israel professors Noam Chomsky of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Denis Sullivan of Northeastern University.
Hobert told WND he was inspired to learn foreign languages from Chomsky but has not been influenced by his views on Israel.
"As I look out the window, Noam's office is right across the river (at MIT). Charles Jacobs again warps his words to try to get people on his side. I've known Noam for years. He's the rock star of linguistics; he taught me about universal grammar and how the brain works. Can you imagine seeing this research and how it applies to a child's formative years? And in addition to linguistics, I thought, why can't we teach kids to be more fluent in not only languages but cultures and conflict resolution while still in their formative years? So that's a lie," Hobert said. "Another lie. It's really tragic."
As for his connections with Sullivan at Northeastern, Hobert said:
"I wanted to talk to somebody who had a pro-Palestinian outlook so he could help me with his expertise on different groups: one Fatah, and number two, Hamas. We all look at Hamas as a terrorist organization but Hamas also has a political wing. Israel pushed us to call Hamas a terrorist organization. There are many in the world who know it has sprouted to create a political wing as well."
WND asked Hobert if he believes that Hamas' "political wing" is entirely separate from its military wing or would do anything that would undercut its military plans for the region.
"Yes, I do see the two as separate. Can you see their military wing building schools, offering food distribution, and social welfare programs?" he said. "It's the same with Hezbollah (in Lebanon). To teach students, or to offer to students, those different possibilities, are they a terror organization or do they also offer social programs, as opposed to offering one aspect and shoving it down their throats, with, 'I'm telling you what's right'? This is what we're doing."
At one point in the APT documentary, titled "Axis of Bias," the camera flips to a female student making a presentation while playing the role of a member of the Arab League. "We want justice for Palestine and punishment for Israel for what they have done," the student says.
"This is exactly what happens with Model U.N. and also in law schools," Hobert told WND. "You are forced to role-play different sides. You have to be able to know what is going on in the minds of others."
Hobert is an author of several books on education and a prolific speaker. Some of his topics include "Weaving Global Responsibility Into the Fabric of Your School," and "Educating Global Citizens," according to the B.U. website.
On his LinkedIn page, he describes his expertise as follows:
"Focus on 'Educating Global Citizens' seminar and creation of 'Intellectual Outward Bound' conflict resolution simulation case-studies."
Hobert likened his approach to that of his favorite NFL quarterback Tom Brady and his coach, Bill Belichick, of the New England Patriots.
"He's gotten a lot of unwanted attention lately from 'deflategate,' but Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, they study opposing quarterbacks and they can get into the minds of every single player every week like nobody else," Hobert said. "Can you imagine students learning that way to try to get in the middle of the eye of the hurricane of conflict resolution? It works like a charm, and it's unfortunate that zealots like Charles Jacobs are so infuriated."
Hobert said he believes Jacobs' criticisms boil down to three things.
"He's upset that, A) I got Race-to-the-Top funding to redo the whole case study that still includes Fatah and Hamas, B) that it's Common Core-based, and C) that I open-sourced it so it's free now for every school to use."