California Faces Backlash Over 'Blatantly Anti-Semitic' High School Curriculum
The California Department of Education is facing a backlash after introducing what some call a "blatantly anti-Semitic" educational curriculum that was prepared by anti-Israel activists. The curricula, which aims to teach about the Arab/Israeli conflict from "a multiple narrative approach," is the work of KARAMA, the Arab and Islamic World Information Project.
According to sources, the materials are absurdly slanted with the intention to demonize the Jewish state and foster hatred of Jewish and Israeli-American students.
Multiple sources involved in the controversy told the Washington Free Beacon's Adam Kredo that the allegedly anti-Semitic courses are "fostering an unsafe environment for Jewish and Israeli-American students."
To date, 83 pro-Israel and anti-discrimination organizations have petitioned the state to reform its Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) and to remove multiple instances of perceived anti-Semitic and anti-Israel bias.
According to the Free Beacon, "several of the educators involved in pushing the new curriculum have a history of anti-Israel activism that has often spilled into anti-Semitic territory."
"We are aware that many individuals and groups affiliated with the Jewish community have already written to you about the ESMC's shocking omission of information about American Jews and its use of classic anti-Semitic stereotypes, and its blatant anti-Israel bias," a coalition of 83 pro-Israel organizations wrote to California's Education Department.
"This includes the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, who wrote to you that they ‘cannot support a curriculum that erases the American Jewish experience, fails to discuss anti-Semitism, reinforces negative stereotypes about Jews, singles out Israel for criticism and would institutionalize the teaching of anti-Semitic stereotypes in our public schools,'" the groups wrote.
"Not surprisingly, more than one-quarter of the Model Curriculum Advisory Committee members, appointed by the State Board of Education to draft the ESMC, have publicly expressed animus toward Israel and its supporters, with some members openly supporting BDS," the letter states. "There is no doubt that these committee members have unconscionably used the state-mandated curriculum as a tool for politically indoctrinating California's high school students with anti-Israel propaganda and encouraging them to engage in political activism against the Jewish state."
According to the pro-Israel group, some of the educators behind the effort are public supporters of the BDS movement, an international effort to boycott Israel.
"It's odd that a professional committee that's supposed to have an impact on the education of millions of kids in California in public school and is funded by taxpayers is so biased," said Shoham Nicolet, head of the Israel American Council, an organization working to oppose the curriculum. "How come the BDS movement is part of what is supposed to be allowed in classrooms in California?"
One committee member is a pro-Palestinian teacher and activist on social media: Samia Shoman is a Palestinian-American who teaches in the San Mateo Union High District.
According to the Beacon, "her lesson plans on Palestinian history have been featured as a teaching tool by the Qatar Foundation International, a group tied to the nation and its efforts to proliferate boycotts of Israel. Shoman is also a pro-Palestinian activist on Twitter."
Samia Shoman, Palestinian-American who hates Israel is a member of the CDE’s Draft Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum hates Israel. Her lesson plans on Palestinian history have been featured as a teaching tool by the Qatar Foundation Internatl tied to its efforts to spread BDS. pic.twitter.com/lu5SXOXk5m
— Adam Milstein (@AdamMilstein) August 12, 2019
According to the Beacon:
Another committee member, Gaye Theresa Johnson, an associate professor at UCLA college of social sciences, also has supported pro-Palestinian causes on Twitter, including retweets from pro-Iran individuals who have deemed Tehran as the victim in the ongoing nuclear standoff with the United States.
A third committee member, Theresa Montaño, a professor at California State University, Northridge, has publicly supported the BDS movement and advocates for Israeli scholars to be boycotted in the United States. Montaño also signed a 2009 letter to then-president Barack Obama that was organized by one of the globe's most prominent BDS organizations.
One lesson from the curriculum on "Fact, Perspective, Narrative and Truth" absurdly draws a moral equivalence between George W. Bush and Osama Bin Laden.
This all comes as Trump's Department of Energy investigates foreign funding at the university level, focusing on Qatar's giving, specifically. Qatar Foundation International (QFI) has come under increased scrutiny for funding several dozen U.S. schools to the tune of more than $3o million over the past eight years. You can view some of QFI's teaching resources at their Al-Masdar portal.
Masha Merkulova, founder and executive director of Club Z, a Bay Area organization that fosters a commitment to Israel, told the Free Beacon that the curriculum should worry all Americans.
"If we allow this to happen, California's children are going to be indoctrinated in intolerance and hate," Merkulova said. "This is our flashpoint … this ethnic studies curriculum is infused with Jew hatred. Let's call it for what it is, anti-Semitism. Our Department of Education has put bigoted people in charge of writing a curriculum that is supposed to promote inclusivity and tolerance."
"This is an attempt to make anti-Semitism institutional," she said. "This is what the kids are going to learn as part of normal things they learn."