Will pro-BDS and anti-Semitic material soon appear in public high schools across the state of California? To judge by a proposed new “ethnic-studies curriculum” in the state, that’s certainly one possibility. In 2016 the California legislature passed a law calling for the creation of such a curriculum. Now the curriculum has appeared in model form—and it’s trouble, report Jackson Richman and Sean Savage.
The proposed curriculum section on “Arab American Studies Course Outline” contains a number of passages concerning the Israel-Palestinian conflict, such as “Direct Action Front for Palestine and Black Lives Matter,” “Call to Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Israel” and “Comparative Border Studies: Palestine and Mexico.” It also includes studying national figures such as Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the late Columbia University professor Edward Said, Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour, the late radio personality Casey Kasem, actress Alia Shawkat, and the late White House correspondent Helen Thomas—all of whom are associated with anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric, and, in the case of the congresswomen, a push to enact legislation punishing Israel.
According to the sample course models, students also are introduced to concepts like the nakba, defined from Arabic as “the catastrophe,” which is used to describe the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel in May 1948 and the displacement of Arabs that occurred.
Many in the Jewish community are outraged.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center told the Jewish News Service (JNS) that if this curriculum is left unchallenged, it would “be a disaster for all Jews in California.”
“The proposed mandatory ethnic-studies curriculum inexplicably snubs Jews and other ethnic groups as it falls woefully short on inclusiveness of California’s diverse population,” the American Jewish Committee’s Los Angeles chief of staff Dganit Abramoff and AJC Northern California Rabbi Serena Eisenberg told JNS. “It mischaracterizes Jewish history and identity, especially Mizraḥi Jews, who constitute a significant portion of the state’s Jewish population; neglects the history and scope of anti-Semitism; and demonizes the state of Israel.”