Democrat Rep. Ritchie Torres urges DOE to prohibit ‘indoctrinating students with anti-Israel propaganda’ after classroom map left out Jewish state

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By Dan Sears

A Democratic Congressman is urging the Department of Education to put restrictions in place to prevent “anti-Israel propaganda” in city schools after a Qatari-funded map that left out the Jewish state was found posted in a Brooklyn classroom.

Rep. Ritchie Torres called the use of the map “irresponsible, reckless and dangerous,” especially given the current political climate following the horrific October 7 attacks by Hamas, according to a copy of the letter to the Department of Education obtained by the Post.

“Anti-Israel propaganda has no place in the NYC public school system, which should be free of politics,” Torres said in the letter to Chancellor David Banks on Friday.

“I am calling upon the DOE to put in place policies and protocols that prohibit DOE officials from indoctrinating students with anti-Israel propaganda.

“The DOE should subject to heightened scrutiny educational content from external entities like the Qatar International Foundation, whose program promoted the image of the Middle East where Israel was nowhere to be found.”


Rep. Ritchie Torres at a news conference
Rep. Richie Torres (pictured) called the use of the map “irresponsible, reckless and dangerous,” especially given the current political climate following callous Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas REUTERS

The Israel-erasing map was used as part of a program funded by the Qatar Foundation International (QFI), the American wing of the Qatar Foundation, a non-profit owned by the ruling family of the wealthy Arab state.

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Since the revelation of the map, the Department of Education has been scurrying to come up with answers, as educators and local politicians expressed disbelief that the display was being used in a public classroom.

“I am deeply concerned about this issue and we are working to determine why this map is on display,” Rep. Dan Goldman, whose district includes the school, said earlier in the week.

The map, which was exposed in an article by The Free Press Thursday, was manufactured by Arab education company Ruman and features Islamic landmarks in each of the countries in northern Africa and the Middle East.

Photos show the map was posted under the heading “Arab World” with hand-drawn labels marking each country, except for Israel which was labeled “Palestine,” at PS 261. The omission was denounced as anti-Israel propaganda that sought to delegitimize the Jewish state.

Twenty-two K-12 public schools and eight academic programs are known to have received grants from QFI across the United States. The Post has reached out to these institutes to see if they are still funded.

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Map showing "Arab World" marking each country except Israel
The map was posted under the heading “Arab World” with hand-drawn labels marking each country, except for Israel Spokoiny/X

QFI funded the PS261 program as part of more than $1 million given to the DOE over the past four years, public records show.

The foundation donated about $241,000 in 2019 and 2020, $275,000 in 2021, and $513,000 in 2022. Records for 2023 and 2024 are not yet available.

The Department of Education has ignored requests from the Post about QFI funding and when initially questioned about the map’s existence failed to see the problem, telling the Free Press it was “referring to Arabic-speaking countries,” despite 20 percent of Israel’s population speaking the language.

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), there has been a 360 percent surge in antisemitism in the wake of October 7th, with antisemitic incidents rising to levels not seen in four decades.

Torres has been one of the most outspoken Democrats in favor of providing military assistance to Israel as it fights to eliminate Hamas and his district office was on the receiving end of vandalism at the hands of “anti-Israel extremists” in December.

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“No content should be taught to students unless it has been thoroughly reviewed and pre-approved by the DOE,” Torres continued.

“It is profoundly irresponsible, reckless, and dangerous for the DOE and its partners like the Qatar International Foundation to incite anti-Israel hate and hysteria in an amplified atmosphere of antisemitism,” Torres added.

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