The California State Board of Education (SBE) recently voted unanimously, despite overwhelming objection among public comments, to adopt a statewide ethnic studies curriculum that, even after four drafts, is fraught with anti-Semitism. The SBE’s decision to adopt a divisive, bigoted curriculum is clear evidence of systemic Jew-hatred in education — present not just in California but throughout the country.
This vote does not mean an end to our fight to eradicate Jew-hatred from our education system. The Lawfare Project has sent a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom and to the SBE outlining foreseeable violations of federal and state civil rights laws — including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the California State Constitution, and the California Education Code — if the curriculum is implemented. We have also filed public records requests under the California Public Records Act (CPRA) to obtain documents and communications related to this curriculum so that we may investigate the role of individuals appointed or employed by the SBE in writing anti-Jewish discrimination into the curriculum.
This curriculum denigrates the Jewish community. Instead of working towards inclusion, it actively excludes Jewish history and does not fully acknowledge Jew-hatred as a systemic form of discrimination. It is also rife with historical inaccuracies that advance a false narrative about the lived experience of the Jewish people in the Middle East.
The curriculum alleges Jews have “conditional whiteness,” which amounts to naming Jews as oppressors rather than the victims of discrimination and oppression. This is a BIG DEAL, because the curriculum is essentially a narrative in which modern history, politics, and society are shaped by a dominant “white” group that has oppressed and marginalized non-white groups. In reality, Jews are the oldest and most persecuted minority in the world. No self-respecting Nazi would ever consider a Jewish person white. Categorizing Jews as “whites” does several things. First, it denies that we are a minority subject to protections under civil rights laws. Second, it denies the Jewish people’s ethnic, cultural, and religious identity, and our indigeneity to the land of Israel. It does this by claiming that not all Jews are indigenous to the Middle East. Third, it perpetuates and reinforces the anti-Semitic stereotype that Jews control the world. The Jew-hatred in this curriculum does not stop there.
This outrageous, if unsurprising, exclusion of our unique history may be explained by who wrote the curriculum. Three of the 18 original authors are known for their anti-Jewish biases. We cannot expect our children to grow up open-minded and informed when those who teach their teachers peddle lies and conspiracy theories about Jews and the American Jewish community.
Rest assured, our fight will continue. We will do all that we can to ensure American students are being educated about ethnic studies the RIGHT way — not indoctrinated with Jew-hatred.
None of this could be accomplished without your help. Thank you for being there every step of the way.
Executive Director, The Lawfare Project