Instead of putting anti-racist education in the hands of the pro-Israel lobby, the California Department of Education should recommit to a true ethnic studies curriculum.
By Jody Sokolower | Mondoweiss | Sept 29, 2020
There’s only one problem. Education to End Hate rests on the false premise that any criticism of Israel or Zionism, any effort to examine Palestinian history or current realities in the region is inherently antisemitic
Last week, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced a new initiative, “Education to End Hate.” “Our country is facing two pandemics: coronavirus and hate,” he said. “It’s time to double down on our efforts to combat all forms of hate, bias and bigotry.” He contrasted his new initiative with President Trump’s attacks on the 1619 Project Curriculum, classroom materials developed by the New York Times that investigate how slavery has shaped America. As a result, Thurmond got great press for standing up for anti-racist, anti-bias education.
There’s only one problem. Education to End Hate rests on the false premise that any criticism of Israel or Zionism, any effort to examine Palestinian history or current realities in the region is inherently antisemitic. One of the three organizations providing professional development and resources for the program is the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance. The Wiesenthal Center has a long history of promoting Israel at all costs and trying to silence Palestinian voices. On September 2, Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the center, wrote that Trump was a “non-Jewish hero” for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in the face of international law. Last year the center listed Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar’s criticism of Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinians and support for the ability to boycott Israel as among the “Top 10 Worst Global Anti-Semitic and Anti-Israel Incidents.” The center organizes extensively on college campuses to quash discussion of Palestine, and last year successfully pressured the Niles, Illinois, school district into canceling a class that would have taught teachers about Palestine.