In August 2020, after a spring and summer filled with anti-Semitic attacks from the far-right and the far-left on synagogues, businesses, institutions, college campuses and against Jews across the United States, Brooke Goldstein, the founder and executive director of the Lawfare Project, published an article in Newsweek titled, “The Time is Now for a Jewish Civil Rights Movement.”
In her piece, Goldstein noted how, for well over a century, Jews in the United States have been at the forefront of organizing, demonstrating and fighting for the civil rights of others. Yet, after another year of anti-Semitic hates crimes being at an all-time high, following a year in which Jews in the United States were 2.7 times more likely to be the victims of hate crimes than African Americans, we still see Jews in America far more likely to organize protests for others than for ourselves. Goldstein noted: “When four Jews were gunned down in a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, we didn’t blackout our Instagram accounts. It’s open season against Jews in this country, yet only a few of my Jewish friends even bothered to share these stories on social media.”
While it is certainly noble and important to organize and advocate to fight injustice against others, one of the greatest Rabbis and philosophers in the Jewish people’s history, Hillel, explained in Pirkei Avot the ethical duty Jews have to fight for ourselves as well as for others: If I am not for myself, who is for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when? (Pirkei Avot 1:14)
While many Jews in America have embraced the second half of Rabbi Hillel’s axiom, they have forgotten about or ignored the first half. As noted in Goldstein’s piece, the time for Jews, as an ethnic minority in the United States, to meaningfully and collectively respond to anti-Semitism as well as the lies and libel that fuel it is long past.
While certainly not on par with Hillel, Edmund Burke famously said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Well, the only thing necessary for the triumph of anti-Semitism is for Jews to do nothing.
On March 17, 2021, an 11-member board appointed by California Governor Newsom will vote on a proposed Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC). If it is approved, this curriculum will become required for all public school students in California — the state that is home to the largest public school system in the United States and the second-largest population of Jews. Yet since its inception, the ESMC has been grounded in controversy. And that is because many of its founders and much of its foundation were grounded in Jew-hatred.
The first draft of the ESMC was riddled with anti-Semitism. In a curriculum that was supposed to be about the unique and diverse history of ethnic minorities in California, only one foreign country was repeatedly blasted for existing — Israel — and only one ethnic minority was lambasted for being “privileged” (the one experiencing the most hate crimes per capita in America since at least the start of the twenty-first century).
Because it was so plainly anti-Semitic, the ESMC was sent back to the drawing board twice. And while much of the over-the-top and overt anti-Semitism has been excised from the third draft, the ESMC remains deeply flawed. In the current draft of the ESMC continues to outright laud and instruct students to venerate egregious Jew-haters like the Third World Liberation Front. And it is still the case that Jews remain the only ethnic minority for whom the term “privilege” is applied.
The reason why the ESMC still promotes Jew-hatred after three rewrites is because many of its founders are Jew-haters. They are almost all far-left academics, none of whom uttered a word of protest or objection when one of their co-authors recently characterized the ADL as a “white supremacist organization.” These same authors have also recently declared that their mission is to get school districts to adopt and require students to be taught the original version of their hate-filled curriculum.
Enough is enough. Baseball gave us the expression, “three strikes and you’re out.” Well, the ESMC authors have had three attempts at drafting a curriculum that doesn’t promote Jew-hatred, and after three strikes against the Jewish people, it is time for us to get out of our seats and into the streets.
After three strikes against the Jewish people, it is time for us to get out of our seats and into the streets.
On Sunday, March 7, 2021, the End Jew Hatred Movement, of which I am a part, is organizing a (socially distanced) protest against systemic Jew hatred in education.
The controversy over the ESMC is, after all, just the latest example of how embedded anti-Semitism is in education. On many American colleges, Jews are being told they have to check their Jewish identity and pride at the door if they want to be accepted. That is why a National Demographic Survey of American Jewish College Students in 2014 found that 54% of Jewish students reported experiencing or witnessing anti-Semitism on campus. That’s over half of Jewish college students in America. Linda Sarsour, another person that the ESMC features as a role model, lectured Jews about how anti-Semitism is “not systemic.” Doesn’t 54% sound “systemic”?
Again, enough is enough. If any curriculum is going to be mandated by the government for our students, then we certainly need a better curriculum. A curriculum free of any bias and discrimination. But more importantly, as Jews, we need to draw a line in the sand and secure an end to systemic Jew-hatred in education.
On March 7, 2021, at 1:00 p.m., at 11000 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, the #EndJewHatred Movement will be protesting against the imposition of this ESMC on California’s public schools.
We will demand that the California State Board of Education:
- Require the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum to include the full Jewish experience as a targeted minority in America and remove anti-Jewish bias.
- Train teachers and administrators about systemic anti-Semitism in education and how to dismantle it.
- Implement mandatory study of the Holocaust, the expulsion of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa and systemic discrimination against the Jewish community in America for years K-12.
- Investigate why blatant Jew-hatred was included in the initial drafts of the ESMC and mandate these drafts not be used.
What starts with Jews never ends with Jews. As Hillel’s wisdom implores us, now is the time to stand up for ourselves, so we can also continue to stand for others.