Recruiting for Hamas: How Portland’s Schools Work to Transform America’s Children Into Radical Palestinian Revolutionaries

Recruiting for Hamas: How Portland’s Schools Work to Transform America’s Children Into Radical Palestinian Revolutionaries
Recruiting for Hamas: How Portland’s Schools Work to Transform America’s Children Into Radical Palestinian Revolutionaries

“The Palestinian Flag has one red triangle, one white stripe, one green stripe, and one black stripe. How many colors does the Palestinian flag have in all?”

This is the first of ten “Palestine Word Problems” in a worksheet produced for kindergarteners by an organization called “Teaching While Muslim” (TWM).

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The pro-Palestinian bias is obvious, but the effort looks amateurish and ineffective. Merely knowing that four colors appear in the Palestinian flag won’t turn anyone into a Muslim terrorist.

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The genuine threat is seen in those promoting this effort. The Portland Association of Teachers provided a link to the handout in its resource guide, Teach Palestine! Resources for Educators in Portland Public Schools compiled by Oregon Teachers for Palestine. The handout targets the “over 4500 professional educators” who are members of this affiliate of the National Education Association—the largest teachers’ union in the United States.

The radical nature of the Portland Union is undeniable. A May 31, 2024, post to its Facebook page advertised several “organizing and activism events.” They included a “Union Makes Us Strong” concert and a “Summer Solidarity Event,” sponsored by Portland Jobs with Justice. Another event was “Charla De Colombia” — “A ‘Happy Hour’ program of informal interviews with our friends and comrades from Colombia.” The previous week, it advertised a visit to Portland State University by “Lianys Torres Rivera, the current Cuban ambassador to the U.S.”

Propaganda Posing as Instruction

In a recent article, Christopher Rufo reviewed another TWM effort, a lesson from Teach Palestine. The information imbalance is immediately apparent. “The lesson suggests that teachers should gather the kindergarteners into a circle and teach them a history of Palestine: ‘75 years ago, a lot of decision makers around the world decided to take away Palestinian land to make a country called Israel. Israel would be a country where rules were mostly fair for Jewish people with White skin,’ the lesson reads. ‘There’s a BIG word for when Indigenous land gets taken away to make a country, that’s called settler colonialism.’”

Mr. Rufo was not “cherry-picking” by highlighting the most incendiary passages from an otherwise harmless document. As part of this lesson, students are encouraged to compare the Palestinian experience with that of American Indians. Following that, the students are encouraged to reflect that “Palestinians want to be safe and free in their homes, just like we want to be safe and free in our homes.” If such reflection doesn’t aggravate the students sufficiently, the following phrase steps it up a notch. “Palestinians have been working to be safe and free in their homes for a long time, even when Israel makes unfair, unsafe, and hurtful rules.”

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The main activity is to read a story and then prepare pro-Palestinian signs or create artwork featuring Palestinian symbols.

The lesson closes with the sort of self-congratulation and virtue-signaling upon which radicals thrive. “We close by sharing our work with each other and celebrating our powerful action with a snack and/or song!”

Spewing Out Propaganda

As contrived as the preceding lesson may seem, it pales compared to Handala’s Return: A Children’s Story and Workbook, prepared by the Palestinian Feminist Collective (PFC).

The PFC carries with it the woke assumptions common to most radicals. According to its webpage, it is “a body of Palestinian/Arab feminists primarily located on Turtle Island (the unceded lands known as North America).” The phrase “Turtle Island” is often used by radical American Indians to describe the entire continent. Perhaps the PFC is so cryptic about its North American location because it wants to prevent people from reflecting that “feminist perspectives” are forbidden in most of the Mohammedan world. They are happy to accept donations in—U.S. dollars—at an address in White Plains, New York.

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Regardless of their geographic limitations, the members of the PFC are thoroughly convinced of their virtues. They describe themselves as “an intergenerational collective of activists, organizers, practitioners, creators, thinkers, artists, scholars, healers, water and land protectors, life-givers, and life sustainers.”

They left a few words out of their glowing self-analysis. They are also propagandists and emotional manipulators of innocent children.

Imaginary Emotional Connections

The first task in Handala’s Return is designed to build a sentimental connection with American kindergarteners. It begins simply. The artist presents Handala as a barefoot boy in ragged clothing. Pages three and four ask children to write their names in both Western and Arabic characters.

Handala then explains that his artist named him after a plant that grows bitter fruit but has deep roots and grows back when its stem is cut. Therefore, it is resilient and has deep connections to the land. However, he hastens to explain that his favorite fruit is the watermelon, which contains the colors of the Palestinian flag.

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The ragged little boy then pours out his tale of woe. At the age of ten, he had to flee his home because of the “Nabka,” in which “bullies called Zionists wanted our land.” He and his crying mother were forced into a Lebanese refugee camp. The Zionists forbid their return “even though we still have the key to our home.” Then, space is allowed for students to draw pictures of their own homes, complete with keys. One can almost hear the teacher asking the vulnerable students how they would feel in Handala’s place.

Symbolic Acts of Pseudo-Liberation

Then, the focus turns to revolutionary action—even if it is only symbolic. Page thirteen has a small picture of Handala at the top left and a tiny map of Palestine at the bottom right. Between the picture and the map is a maze. Handala, it turns out, needs each child’s help “to get back home to Palestine! Trace a way home for Handala.”

The cartoons never show the character’s face because the artist “wanted me to turn my back against all the world leaders who didn’t help me.” He intends to keep his back turned until he returns “to a free Palestine.” However, he assures his young acquaintances, “I will never turn my back on you. I HOPE YOU WON’T TURN YOUR BACK ON ME.” (Emphasis in the original.)

Page eighteen explains that American children can support their Palestinian counterparts. They can write letters and draw pictures. They can raise funds to help Palestinian children. They can intone the chants—which the teachers, presumably, lead—at “a Palestine protest.”

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Of course, the logistics of kindergarten protests might be complicated. Since the children can’t drive their own electric cars to the protest, maybe the faculty of Nonsense Elementary School in the Portland suburbs could gather them in the parking lot. Undoubtedly, local television stations would be willing to report on cute children and their handmade signs. There is nothing like singing children to build support for a cause.

Such “protests” do nothing to solve the problems of Palestine, but they do help raise good little leftists. That is, of course, the whole point of the exercise.

Photo Credit:  © AungThurein –