Brooklyn public school erases Israel from map


A public New York City elementary school is being accused of “Jewish erasure” because a map in one of its classrooms showed all of the countries in the Middle East except for Israel — which it labeled as Palestine.

The map, labeled the “Arab World,” appears in a classroom at PS 261 in Brooklyn, where Rita Lahoud gives students lessons in the Arab Culture Arts program — which is funded by Qatar Foundation International, the American wing of the Qatar Foundation, a nonprofit owned by the country’s wealthy ruling family.

It was manufactured by Arab education company Ruman and features Islamic landmarks in each of the countries in northern Africa and the Middle East.

At the school, the map is posted under the heading “Arab World” with hand-drawn labels marking each country, except for Israel which Lahoud labeled “Palestine.”

“It’s not just that we’re experiencing Jewish hate in NYC public schools, we’re actually experiencing Jewish erasure,” Tova Plaut, a New York City public school instructional coordinator for preschool through fifth grade, told the Free Press.

“And here is proof of that.”

A map of the “Arab World” inside a classroom at PS 261 labels Israel “Palestine.” @Spokoiny / X

QFI shared a photo of the map in a since-deleted post on X, writing: “We love seeing #Arabic classroom decorations!” according to the Free Press.

But Plaut said the map is “troubling.”

“The fact that there is a map out there that does not represent what the world actually looks like is troubling,” she said.

“We’re giving children misinformation,” she continued, calling the map an “example of how you embed implicit bias into children.

“What it does is it creates this inner instinctive knowledge that they internalize that this land belongs to the Arab world; that it does not belong to anyone else,” added Plaut, who is also the founder of the New York City Public Schools Alliance, a group of educators and parents fighting antisemitism and other forms of hate in city schools in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

“When you embed something when children are young, it becomes a belief. And belief is much harder to change than knowledge,” she said.

The school has an Arab Culture Arts program, which is funded by Qatar Foundation International — the American wing of the Qatar Foundation, a nonprofit owned by the country’s wealthy ruling family. Google St View

Inside the classroom where the map appears, Lahoud, a Palestinian-American who was born in the US but moved to the Middle East at the age of 7 and lived in Palestine and Saudi Arabia, teaches lessons “about the art and culture of the Arab world” in Arabic, according to the QFI blog.

She said in November she had a passion for teaching students about Arab culture, telling the blog: “Diversity in education and every area of life is now valued more than ever.

“Even if my students do not grow up to be Arabic language experts or even fluent in the Arabic language, they will have deep knowledge and respect for Arab culture and art,” Lahoud said.

“This is so important in today’s political and social climate,” she continued.

“Education programs like ours can go a long way in changing perceptions, and in giving children the necessary tools to refute stereotypes.”

The Post has reached out to the New York City Department of Education and QFI for comment.

Rita Lahoud teaches students at the school “about the art and culture of the Arab world” in Arabic. Google St View

When reached for comment, the principal of PS 261 directed the Post to the Department of Education.

But when the Free Press asked the department whether the map was still up following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, a spokesman wrote back, “Why would it not be?” the outlet reports.

Spokesman Nathaniel Styer also reportedly added that “this is a map of countries that speak Arabic.”

Meanwhile, it was revealed that QFI has donated over $1 million to the Department of Education between 2019 and 2022.

In 2019 and 2020, the organization gave more than $241,000 to fund dual-language Arabic programs at PS 261 and PS 30 in Brooklyn, according to public disclosure forms.

In 2021, the organization also gave more than $275,000 to the Department of Education, and in 2022, the number rose to more than $513,000, though it is unclear how the funds were distributed.

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