by Joan Hellyer
The Intelligencer, September 25, 2009
A Muslim civil liberties and advocacy group raised concerns recently that an anti-Islamic video was part of a Council Rock High School South elective.
The video, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” was produced by the Clarion Fund Inc. The New York City-based nonprofit organization, founded by Israeli-Canadian film producer Raphael Shore, says its efforts are geared toward informing the public about national security threats. “Obsession,” according to the Clarion Fund’s Web site, gives an “insider’s view” of the hatred Islamic extremists are teaching, “their incitement of global jihad, and their goal of world domination.”
That’s not the way the Council on American-Islamic Relations sees it, according to Marwa El-Turky, the group’s civil rights director in Pennsylvania. “At the beginning of the video it says it is to show Islamic extremism. But throughout the video, it suggests and promotes bigotry and hate,” El-Turky said Thursday. “It doesn’t make a distinction between mainstream Islam and extremists.”
CAIR-PA learned from a former Council Rock student recently that CR South offered a course called “Social Problems in America,” which included the use of the video, El-Turky said. The student saw the video usage posted on an online course syllabus. The Muslim group contacted Council Rock officials in August and asked them to stop showing the video “to a captive audience” in the social studies class.
It’s the first complaint the district had received about the course, Council Rock Superintendent Mark Klein said Thursday. Up until this school year, it had been shown by course teacher David Jacoby “as part of a bigger look at Islamic issues,” Klein said. School administrators knew the video was included in the course because teachers are required to submit a syllabus for the classes they teach, he said.
Jacoby, an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy reserves, is on leave from his teaching position this school year while serving on a military assignment in Iraq, officials said. The “Social Problems” course he taught for several years was replaced this school year with a gender study class, based on a decision the district’s school board made in early 2009, Klein said. The recent concerns raised by CAIR-PA had no impact on the board’s decision, he said.