Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Teaching Jihad?

Iran’s post-revolutionary education system continues to teach children to discriminate against women and religious minorities, according to a report released March 11 by Freedom House, a Washington-based nonprofit group that seeks to encourage democracy in the world.

While lauded by supporters for its candid look at the challenges facing Iran, the report, entitled "Discrimination and Intolerance in Iranian Textbooks," was actually the second time in little more than a week that such a study was released inside the Washington Beltway.

The Hudson Institute, member of a closely knit group of neoconservative policy institutes that frequently champion aggressive U.S. foreign policies, launched the first report on March 10 with the help of the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP).

The CMIP report, initially released in 2007, paints an alarmist picture of the Iranian regime, underscoring the ideological leanings of its authors and the organization that promoted the study. The Hudson Institute forum on CMIP’s survey was entitled, "Iranian Textbooks: Preparing Iran’s Children for Global Jihad."

The Freedom House report covers 95 of the most recent school textbooks, ranging from primary to high school. The study identifies a gender ideology that is built upon the "natural superiority" of men and a culture of discrimination whose existence is rooted in a "world view imbued with a religious and political project," according to its author, Saeed Peivandi, a professor of sociology at Paris 8 University in France.

Freedom House is best known for its flagship publication, the yearly "Freedom in the World" report, which rates countries according to their level of civil liberties and political rights. The Financial Times reported on March 31, 2006 that the organization was one of several selected by the State Department to receive funding for non-violent, clandestine activities inside Iran.

The two reports, which presumably examine the same issue, arrive at markedly different conclusions.

"The [Hudson Institute report] sheds light on the bleak reality of a regime that indoctrinates its children for war against the West and Israel, in the name of Islam," said Meyrav Wurmser during Hudson’s panel discussion, which included Arnon Groiss, director of research at CMIP, and Shayan Arya, who is a member of the exiled Constitutionalist Party of Iran and a fellow at CMIP.

"It also shows us that this is a regime that very actively educates its youth to launch jihad against the West and its allies," she said.

Wurmser, a member of the elite clique of policy wonks who comprise the deflating neoconservative movement, heads the Middle East policy wing at Hudson and cofounded the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). In 1996, Wurmser participated in a study that led to the report, "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," urging Israel to break off then-ongoing peace initiatives and to help overthrow Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.

Added Groiss: "The books reveal an alarming picture of an extremist and irrational regime bent on global war to the point of self-destruction."

In contrast, Peivandi’s report for Freedom House takes a more nuanced approach: "If we accept the premise that the subject matter in the textbooks in every country or educational system portends the kind of people that that system wants to produce," he said through a translator, "we then see that studying the content of the Iranian textbooks will show us what kind of language of society future generations the Islamic Republic wants to produce."

And unlike the authors of the CMIP report, Peivandi did not focus on the Iranian "death cult" that neoconservative pundits seem so eager to portray in their attempts to push for more aggressive action against Iran.

"When I was a teacher in schools when we were teaching arithmetic we would say, ‘How many guns would two guns and three guns make?’" said Peivandi.

But in the 20 years since the Iran-Iraq war, he said, "The militarization of textbooks has actually stopped," partly a consequence of revision and reform undertaken under the administration of former President Mohammad Khatami in the 1990s. However, he said, "Glorification of the martyr and martyrdom continues."

Peivandi says the Iranian regime’s approach to education more importantly reflects the shortcomings of the top-down Islamization of society, the attempt to control and emphasize ideal societal traits for Iranian youth through rigid educational programs. But students rebel against the approach.

"In reality, the big mistake is that they think children are a tabla rasa, but they interact dynamically with the material, and some of it doesn’t stick," said Peivandi. "This type of education is backwards looking and has no relationship to the future."

Khody Akhavi writes for the Inter Press Service.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), one of the more effective U.S. lobbying outfits, aims to ensure that the United States backs Israel regardless of the policies Israel pursues.


Erik Prince, former CEO of the mercenary group Blackwater, continues to sell security services around the world as controversies over his work—including in China and the Middle East, and his alleged involvement in collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia—grow.


Gina Haspel is the first woman to hold the position of director of the CIA, winning her confirmation despite her history of involvement in torture during the Iraq War.


Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) is a pressure group founded in early 2019 that serves as a watchdog and enforcer of Israel’s reputation in the Democratic Party.


Richard Grenell is the U.S. ambassador to Germany for the Donald Trump administration, known for his brusque and confrontational style.


Zalmay Khalilzad is Donald Trump’s special representative to the Afghan peace process, having previously served as ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq under George W. Bush.


Robert Joseph played a key role in manipulating U.S. intelligence to support the invasion of Iraq and today is a lobbyist for the MEK.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

The Senate on Wednesday passed a measure mandating the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Saudi/UAE-led war against Houthi rebels in Yemen. The vote marks the first time since the War Powers Act of 1973 became law that both chambers of Congress have directed the president to withdraw American forces from a conflict.


The Trump administration’s failed “maximum pressure” approach to Iran and North Korea begs the question what the US president’s true objectives are and what options he is left with should the policy ultimately fail.


In the United States, it’s possible to debate any and every policy, domestic and foreign, except for unquestioning support for Israel. That, apparently, is Ilhan Omar’s chief sin.


While Michael Cohen mesmerized the House of Representatives and President Trump resumed his love affair with North Korea’s Kim Jong, one of the most dangerous state-to-state confrontations, centering in Kashmir, began to spiral out of control.


The Trump administration’s irresponsible withdrawal from the landmark Iran nuclear agreement undermined Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and emboldened hardliners who accused him of having been deceived by Washington while negotiating the agreement. However, the Iranian government could use the shock of Zarif’s resignation to push back against hardliners and take charge of both the domestic and foreign affairs of the country while Iran’s foreign opponents should consider the risks of destabilizing the government under the current critical situation.


Europe can play an important role in rebuilding confidence in the non-proliferation regime in the wake of the demise of the INF treaty, including by making it clear to the Trump administration that it wants the United States to refrain from deploying INF-banned missiles in Europe and to consider a NATO-Russian joint declaration on non-first deployment.


The decline in Israel’s appeal to Democrats is directly related to the wider awareness of the country’s increasingly authoritarian nature, its treatment of Palestinians, and its reluctance to take substantive steps toward peace. Pro-Israel liberals face a fundamental paradox trying to reconcile Israel’s illiberalism with their political values.


RightWeb
share