Aj Committee Survey Finds Jews Are ‘invisible’ in Social Study Textbooks

Jews are, for the most part, America’s “invisible citizens” in textbooks for history and social studies courses in junior and senior high schools examined in a survey sponsored by the American Jewish Committee and reported yesterday to the organization’s 63rd annual meeting. The event ended today with the election of Philip E. Hoffman of Newark, N.J., an attorney and realtor as president. He succeeds Arthur J. Goldberg, former Supreme Court Associate Justice. Max M. Fisher of Detroit, recently named by President Richard M. Nixon as consultant on mobilization of Americans for volunteer service for urban needs, was re-elected chairman of the executive board.

Bertram H. Gold, who was re-elected executive vice-president, presented the report on the textbooks and other instructional materials. He said preliminary findings were that the presence of Jews in the world from Biblical to modern times is often ignored, as are contributions of Jews to America and the world, that the Hitler atrocities in general are treated almost casually with little reference to their enormity, that the creation of Israel is virtually unmentioned and that many histories of the United States show a conspicuous absence of references to anti-Semitism, bigotry, ethnic and minority groups, discrimination and prejudice.

The survey was made by teachers and by the education subcommittee of the AJ Committee’s Los Angeles chapter and the Jewish Community Council of Detroit. Most of the study concerned 45 textbooks, 19 in American history and the rest in world history. Mr. Gold reported that “the Jew is conspicuous by his absence from the world scene” in the examined material “and when he does appear, the student, for the most part, is given a bland portrayal of the life and culture of the Jewish people. Students thus failed to develop a balanced perspective of the culture, history and value of Jews or an adequate understanding of the vibrant aspects of Jewish communal life.” Correspondingly, he said, students studying such material “develop little if any appreciation of Jewish contributions to Western civilization or to American society.”

He reported that the organization planned to use the survey information to suggest revisions to textbook publishers and that it would alert city and state education departments which issue curricula guidelines and lists of recommended texts. He added that the AJ Committee would raise the issue of textbook treatment of all minorities, religious and racial, in discussions with publishers. He cited as among unsatisfactory textbooks “A History of the United States,” Alden and Magenis, 1960; “Problems And Promise of American Democracy,” Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University; “The American Story, Gavian and Hamm, 1959; “The United States Since 1965,” Walter Johnson, 1965; “Our Country’s History,” Davis S. Muzzey, 1961; “The Record of Mankind.” Roehm, Buske, Webster, Wesley, 1961; “A Global History of Man.” L.S. Stavrianos, 1962; “Our Widening World, Ethel E. Ewing, 1958; “Man’s Story,” T. Walter Wallbank, 1964; and “Living World History,” Wall-bank, 1958.

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