Your Tax Dollars At Work: Students Encouraged To Analyze Feelings Of Suicide Bombers


Teresa Mull Research Fellow, The Heartland Institute
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The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), at taxpayer expense, is providing teachers with class material that prompts them to compel students to better relate to the thoughts and emotions of would-be suicide bombers and actual terrorists.

If President Donald Trump needed more evidence for why cutting funding to PBS would be a great service to school children and taxpayers, this is it, and I hope he’s reading.

PBS’ “LearningMedia” division—which, according to the organization’s website, is “America’s #1 Educational Media Brand for access to thousands of innovative, standards-aligned digital resources, [and] compelling student experiences”—offers teachers the free “Dying to be a Martyr” lesson plan, one objective of which is to “explain why individuals and groups sometimes turn to tactics of terrorism.”

After a brief and very puerile history of the Middle East—the lesson plan is for students in grades 9–12 and at one point shows students the inside and outside of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and asks them to identify  “what type of building” it is—the lesson delves into the thought processes of two wannabe suicide bombers, asking students to compare and contrast their feelings and motives as nonchalantly as if asking them to consider why the velocity of x is greater than y in a physics problem.

Teachers are instructed to show their class an interview with “an 18-year-old Palestinian named Mohanned Abu Tayyoun, who entered Israel carrying a bag of explosives with the intention of carrying out a suicide bombing. He wavered, however, and returned home without carrying out the mission.”

Teachers are then instructed to, “Provide your students with a focus for media interaction by asking them to identify how Mohanned views his life and how he feels it differs from the lives of Israelis (Jews),” which is followed by, “Check for understanding by asking students to respond to the focus question. (Mohanned feels he would rather die and by a martyr than live his life, sees his life as hollow – in contrast he sees Israelis as happy, going out, having fun, traveling.) Ask your students why Mohanned may feel that way (Answers may include: Palestinians have less land, fewer privileges, cannot come and go as they please.)”

Is it just me, or does this program sound more than a little sympathetic to Mohanned? And what about the “feelings” of the people whom Mohanned narrowly avoided blowing away, or the turmoil evil acts such as that planned by Mohanned and others cause in the region, or the horror of the nonstop bloodshed?

Don’t worry, though, students aren’t confined to only a failed suicide bomber; they also get to hear from 25-year-old Majdi Amer, “who in March 2003 built a bomb and prepared a suicide bomber for a bus bombing in Haifa that killed 17 people and wounded 50.” They are then encouraged to “compare Majdi’s opinion of suicide bombing with Mohanned’s opinion,” followed by a discussion of “how Majdi and Mohanned’s opinions differ from one another, even though they are both Palestinians involved in suicide bombing plots.”

Once again, the lesson is entirely focused on the thoughts and feelings of these terrorists, providing their perspectives and all but validating their violent thoughts and behavior. Majdi, after all, “feels that Islam calls for him to defend his land any way he can, he does not recognize the Jewish state, he will kill an Israeli for every Palestinian killed,” whereas “Mohanned did not see every Jew as an enemy, did not want to kill innocent people, felt that God wanted him to live.”

Nowhere are teachers encouraged to condemn the terroristic behavior, and of course they would never dare breath a word of the role radical Islam had on these men’s mindsets. Rather, in the face of suicide bombings, we, the taxpayers, are funding classroom exercises across the nation that ask students “to draw two faces that show emotions … a happy face for an Israeli Jew and an angry face for a Palestinian Muslim,” and follow that up with an examination of “contemporary rock and roll music to see the cross fertilization between Israeli Jews and Arabs in Israel and in Palestine.”

It’s not as though the lesson plan has been buried in the back of an irrelevant website, either. The “Dying to be a Martyr” program has been viewed 1,253 times so far, and it’s currently listed in the New York State Education Department’s “Global History & Geography Online Resource Guide.”

The “Dying to be a Martyr” agenda is, along with various other lesson plans promoting Islam at taxpayers’ expense, as the Christian Action Network points out, “nothing more than indoctrinating students into Islamic religious beliefs, duties, and actions,” in addition to being a grand waste of time and a farcical representation of the tragedy that is the Middle East.

It’s also an extreme example of the sort of left-wing indoctrination going on in our public schools day-in and day-out, thanks to our hard-earned tax dollars, and one more glaring reason why education should be freed from federal oversight and returned to the local level ASAP.

To read the original report by my colleague at The Heartland Institute, Justin Haskins, click here.

Teresa Mull (tmull@heartland.org) is a research fellow in education policy at The Heartland Institute.