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Detroit Schools to Correct Arab Guide

February 10, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

— A Jewish teacher’s objections to omissions and inaccuracies about Jews in an Arab ethnic guide produced by the Detroit public schools had led to an official recommendation that the guide be withdrawn and corrected.

Doris Yehiel, a teacher at the Grayling School, objected to a map of the Arab world in the guide which identified Israel as “Arab land occupied by Israel.” She also objected to the listing of Jerusalem as a city on the West Bank of Jordan rather than as Israel’s capital and the identifying of costumes as coming from Syria and Palestine rather than of Syria and Palestinian Arabs.

Judaism was included among the three major religions in the area but Jewish holidays were not listed with the Christian and Islamic holidays.

According to an article in the Jan. 26 issue of the Detroit Federation of Teachers newspaper, Ms. Yehiel first raised her objections with the administration of the Detroit Public Schools Region 6.


Based on her complaint and those of other Jewish teachers, region superintendent Seymour Gretchko had the guide withdrawn. Ms. Yehiel then took the issue to Detroit’s central administration. After a review of the guide and the objections, Dr. Marvin Greene, assistant superintendent for curriculum, and other administrators recommended that the guide be withdrawn.

“In its place,” Greene told the Detroit teachers’ newspaper, “we are recommending that a writing team, independent of special interest groups, utilizing the services of consultants, develop a guide that will include the cultural and historical development of the various ethnic groups in the Middle East.

“We are aware that at the middle and senior high level the course might have to be taught in the context of controversial issues. We would hope that our students would be well informed and yet not captives of any single disputed point of view.”

Greene was not immediately available for comment and his office could not say whether the guide had already been withdrawn from Detroit schools. Ms. Yehiel was quoted by the Detroit teachers’ newspaper as saying that the guide provided valuable information for students learning about peoples from Arab lands. But she said it was insensitive in its approach to Israel and the Jewish people.


The Detroit News reported that the author of the guide and the leaders of Detroit’s Arab community were upset by the controversy.

Haifa Fakhouri, executive director of the Arab-Chaldean Social Services Council, wrote the guide and said she was shocked that she had not been notified of the objection or given a chance to discuss possible corrections. Arab leaders here were outspoken about the recommendation to remove the guide and called for letter-writing campaigns and bringing the issue to the attention of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Washington.

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