Charles Jacobs, a prolific far right-wing, Zionist, Neo-Conservative propagandist has a well known history of anti-Muslim activism.
The Forward listed Charles Jacobs as one of America’s Top 50 Jewish leaders in 2007. Apparently they were looking more at the range of his activism and less at what mischief he was actually up to.
Jacobs has been a founder of Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, the American Anti-Slavery Group, and the David Project, a member of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and has now created the oxymoronically named Americans for Peace and Tolerance. Jacobs has taken Abe Foxman to task for being too soft on Muslims.
Jacobs, who describes Pamela Geller as his “heroine” has led efforts against mosques and campus organizations, doing whatever he can to cast a wide net of suspicion over the entire Muslim American community. He is also known for vicious personal attacks on other Jews who don’t agree with his views and criticize his witch-hunt campaigns.
This past school year Jacobs turned his attention to the Newton, Massachusetts’ school curriculum, describing it as “anti-Semitic” and claiming that it propagated, “proselytized” for and “glorified Islam.”
Such efforts, viewed within a nationwide context, highlight the concerted efforts of Islamophobic hate groups in attacking public school curricula for using textbooks that include lessons on Islam and Muslims.
In the South for instance, ACT! For America and the Eagle Forum have attempted to challenge, expunge and or change the teaching of Islam in History and Social Studies courses in states such as Alabama, Texas, Tennessee and Florida.
Jacobs’ crusade is in the same vein, piggy-backing off of a complaint of anti-Semitism made by a single parent regarding Newton’s History curriculum (the complaint was rejected) Jacobs and his organization, “Americans for Peace and Tolerance,” took out full page ads in Massachusetts newspapers claiming biased texts that “teach lies, hate and intolerance,”
Beginning on Oct. 23, ads criticizing the Newton curriculum began running in the Boston Herald, Newton Tab, Metro Boston, Jewish Advocate, and Boston Globe. The ads say the district uses “biased texts” to teach lies, hate, and intolerance.
Charles Jacobs, president of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, said he cannot prove that all of the passages cited in the ads are actually taught to students, but that any book that contains such passages should not be part of the curriculum. He said it is up to the schools to make the entire curriculum publicly available to prove there is no anti-Semitism.
“We don’t know exactly what students are being taught, we know what’s in those books,” said Jacobs. “They won’t tell us what students are being taught.”
Superintendent David Fleishman, who along with Hills was named personally in the ads, said the district encourages parents to read the curriculum. He has not heard from a single Newton parent concerned about the teaching materials since the ads ran, he said.
The Anti-Defamation League has deeply disagreed with Jacobs, describing his ads as misleading, beyond reasonable criticism,
Parents should not be worried by allegations in the ads, he said. “The Newton public schools do not have an agenda to delegitimize Israel and glorify Islam,” Trestan said.
The gutter tactics employed by Jacobs and his organizations are once again on display, this time endangering the life of school curriculum vice chairman Matt Hills,
Some of the ads featured the home telephone number for Hills, and he said he has received more than 100 calls, some in the middle of the night and almost all from outside Newton. The police, said Hills, “were wonderful and continue to be wonderful in providing security to our home.”
Numerous Rabbinic clergy have also condemned Jacobs in the past and this time it was no different.
Clergy at Temple Emanuel, where Hills attends and where his wife is president, sent out a joint statement last week demanding that the ads be retracted, calling them “baseless” and “scurrilous.”
Eric Gurvis, rabbi at Temple Shalom and father of three Newton North alumni and one current student, called the ads “a witch hunt to promote a very narrow agenda.”
Gurvis, who said he has had run-ins with Americans for Peace and Tolerance in the past, said he remembered the 2011 incident at Newton South that sparked the earlier controversy, but called it an example of accountability by the school because the material at issue was removed.
“There are things in that ad that are based on things that actually happened, but a lot of it is hyperbole based on a trumping-up of what happened and a shading of the facts,” he said. “I just don’t think that’s a legitimate way to conduct discourse in a community.”
Gurvis said the Watertown organization has already had its concerns addressed many times.
“Peace and tolerance is not what their work is really about,” he said.
Jacobs isn’t letting the humiliation of his claims being consistently rejected end his crusade against Newton schools. He created another organization, this one called “Open Newton Schools” for the purpose of continuing his quixotic and bigoted campaign to pressure Newton Schools to implement his version of pseudo-history and hate-filled beliefs regarding Islam and Muslims.