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Progressive Zionists Urge CA Dept. of Education to Keep BDS Out of Ethnic Studies Curriculum

The Progressive Zionists of California (PZC) sent a letter to the California Department of Education to keep the glorification of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement out of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC).

Aaron Bandler is an investigative journalist for the Jewish Journal. Originally from the Bay Area, his past work experience includes writing for The Daily Wire, The Daily Caller and Townhall.

October 19, 2020

The Progressive Zionists of California (PZC) sent a letter to the California Department of Education to keep the glorification of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement out of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC).

The letter, addressed to State Superintendent Tony Thurmond, Chief Deputy Superintendent Stephanie Gregson, and Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) Executive Director Shanine Coats, stated that while PZC agrees with Thurmond that an ethnic studies curriculum is needed, the curriculum should not contain any form of anti-Semitism in it. PZC noted that it’s against federal and state law to discriminate on the basis of national origin or religion and that anti-Semitic hate crimes in California have increased by 72% since 2016.

“Antisemitism is not just the enterprise of white supremacists,” the letter stated. “It is a persistent hatred that ebbs and flows, coming from the political right, political left, and religious extremists.”

The letters proceeded to highlight how in the initial 2019 draft of the ESMC, the glossary called BDS a “freedom movement” and had a poem suggesting that Jews control the media. The most recent draft of the ESMC uses a book co-edited by San Francisco State University Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, which has a chapter on “the suicide bomber through Western feminist eyes” as a resource.

“Groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, which support the inclusion of these elements, are not representative of the Jewish community as a whole,” the letter stated. “Only three of the over 45,000 letters and petitions sent to the IQC last month were from JVP members. Moreover, they represent only 5-7% of Jews across the United States.”

The letter also noted that one of the leaders advocating for pro-BDS language in the ESMC is Lara Kiswani, executive director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, who tweeted in 2014 that Zionism needs to be kicked “out of the Bay Area.” She also said during a meeting at UC Berkeley that year that she will “hate” anyone that sides with Israel.

The letter argued that BDS is anti-Semitic since it aims to delegitimize the Jewish people’s right to self-determination.

The letter argued that BDS is anti-Semitic since it aims to delegitimize the Jewish people’s right to self-determination.

“The Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum must not include BDS, and other highly politicized conversations about Middle Eastern conflicts that create unsafe classrooms for Jewish and Middle Eastern minority students throughout California,” the letter concluded.

California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, vetoed a bill on September 30 that would have required California high school students to take a course on ethnic studies, stating that the most recent ESMC draft “still needs revision.” Various Jewish and pro-Israel groups have argued that while the most recent ESMC draft scrubbed all mentions of BDS, it excludes the experiences of Jews in the Middle East and opens the door for pro-BDS advocacy in the classroom.

The State Board of Education will vote to approve an ESMC draft in 2021.

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