California Ethnic Studies Curriculum Omits Jews and Promotes Anti-Israel Bias

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Pacific High School

The California Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, which was recently released by the California Department of Education for high schools, has brought the fear that American Jews have about being unwelcome to younger students.

The curriculum that the California Department of Education has requested purposefully leaves out any mention of American Jews and antisemitism and promotes an anti-Zionist agenda. “The Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum is deeply troubling – not only for its shocking omission of any mention of Jewish Americans or antisemitism or its blatant anti-Israel bias and praise of BDS, but for its clear attempt to politically indoctrinate students to adopt the view that Israel and its Jewish supporters are part of ‘interlocking systems of oppression and privilege’ that must be fought with ‘direct action’ and ‘resistance,’” said Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder and director of the AMCHA Initiative.

This curriculum proposal is the result of a 2016 law calling for the creation of a model ethnic-studies curriculum by the state’s board of education. Although this curriculum is still going through public comment, revisions, and is not scheduled to be approved until next year, California lawmakers, Jewish groups, and other organizations are shocked by this curriculum’s obvious biases.

The curriculum’s section on “Arab American Studies Course Outline” contains multiple calls for the hatred of Israel, Palestinian border studies, and praises of figures who are associated with antisemitic and anti-Zionist rhetoric. The curriculum refers to the concept of referring to the establishment of the State of Israel as a “catastrophe” and includes songs and poems that are riddled with antisemitic tropes such as equating Jews to all Israelis and saying that Jews control the media.

“This is nothing more than an attempt by fringe activists to hijack the model ethnic-studies curriculum for California high schools in the service of radical political goals,” noted Seth Brysk, the Anti-Defamation League’s central pacific regional director.

The proposed California curriculum has the potential to be extraordinarily dangerous for the American Jewish community. Through the erasure of American Jews and antisemitism in conjunction with the blatant promotion of anti-Zionism, this curriculum threatens and dissolves a major part of what ethnic studies really means.

Anti-Zionist groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine and the BDS movement have once again slithered their way into the spotlight through student groups, legislation, etc. They have not only created an anti-Israel agenda in American schools, but also (in many cases) have created an unsafe environment for American Jews.