Jewish-Americans Support Model Ethnic Studies Curriculum

Jewish Voice for Peace-Bay Area responds to accusations of antisemitism in the curriculum

Jewish Voice for Peace – Bay Area Chapter (JVP-BA) supports the proposed model Ethnic Studies curriculum for California, including the modules on Arab-American history.

Ethnic Studies was created through the struggle of communities of color to make sure their rich history and perspectives are included in public education. Students and educators across the country have made it clear that Ethnic Studies is a critical component of education for the 21st century.

JVP believes that it is essential that a module on Arab-Americans be included in the Ethnic Studies curriculum. The Arab-American experience, including the impact of Islamophobia, is rarely taught in schools, even in many schools with Ethnic Studies programs. That absence results in Arab-American students feeling both invisible and targeted.

During the period of public comment on the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum a wide range of Israel-aligned, Zionist organizations have publicly attacked the curriculum for being anti-Semitic and anti-Israel. As usual, they claim to speak for the entire Jewish community when they do not.

It’s very important to teach students about anti-Semitism and about Jewish-American history and content is already present in the California standards. For example, the 8th grade core literature curriculum includes The Diary of Anne Frank; in the Los Angeles School District, 8th graders take a field trip to the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust; the 10th grade core literature curriculum includes Elie Wiesel’s Night. In high school US History and World History classes, core curriculum includes anti-Semitism, Jewish immigration through Ellis Island, and extensive study of the Holocaust during World War II. In addition.

There exists a Model Curriculum for Human Rights and Genocide which covers the Holocaust and other instances of genocide. The model Ethnic Studies curriculum includes mention of antisemitism as a distinct form of social oppression related to others such as racism, sexism and anti-Arabism.

The purpose of the model Ethnic Studies curriculum is to center the history of people of color who have been marginalized or ignored by the current curriculum.

Curriculum about Arab-Americans is not anti-Semitic. Arabs have been coming to the United States since before it was formed as nation.

Pro-Israel, Zionist organizations are weaponizing the charge of anti-Semitism to shut down diverse perspectives on how Israel treats Palestinians. Relevant history that includes a discussion of the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” in the module on Arab-Americans, is not anti-Semitic. (The Nakba refers to the forced displacement of approximately 750,000 Palestinians that began before Israel’s establishment in 1948, and that continues to this day.) This is absolutely pertinent to the history of forced immigration by Palestinian-Americans to the United States and worldwide.

Racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism are on the rise today in the United States. At JVP we recognize that our common enemy is white supremacy and that our safety as communities will come through solidarity with each other and with all communities demonized by white supremacy.

Jewish Voice for Peace-Bay Area is a part of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), a national grassroots organization with over 70 chapters, 18,000 members, and over 250,000 supporters working for justice, equality and freedom In Palestine and the United States. JVP opposes anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab bigotry and oppression. We work with diverse communities across the U.S. to achieve a lasting peace for Palestinians and Israelis based on equality, human rights, and freedom.


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7 Comments

  1. Alan Miller

    The purpose of the model Ethnic Studies curriculum is to center the history of people of color who have been marginalized or ignored by the current curriculum.

    Are Jews “people of color”?

    Answer:  Some of them appear to be, to those categorizing by color appearance.

    Are only “people of color” marginalized?

    If so, are only Jews that appear to be “people of color” deserving of recognition as a group that is marginalized?  So white-appearing-ish Jews are not?  Or do Jews of color get tossed out along with the white-appearing-ish Jews?

  2. Alan Miller

    I can’t support Jewish Voice for Peace – I mean it all sounds good – but way too far-left liberal, and I can’t stand the pro-Israel conservatives either – way to conservative.  They are both convinced they understand the solution and the other side is the enemy – based on their limited-thinking and polarized-opposite world views – instead of acknowledging both sides have a point in this especially complex situation.  I’m not trying to bring up mid-east politics here, Lord Knows!  Just making the point that “Jewish-Americans Support Model Ethnic Studies Curriculum” as a headline is a poor headline, as it implies “all” when it’s actually a far-left faction, and thus the far-left claiming “As usual, they [Jewish conservative organization] claim to speak for the entire Jewish community when they do not.” is hypocritical, as the headline is the same.  Even if it’s just a Vanguard headline, using it is making the same mistake the far-left Jews claiming the far-right Jews are making.

  3. Bill Marshall

    During the period of public comment on the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum a wide range of Israel-aligned, Zionist organizations have publicly attacked the curriculum for being anti-Semitic and anti-Israel. As usual, they claim to speak for the entire Jewish community when they do not.

    Notice the divisive adjective they use… and the hypocrisy in the second part… given their “broadside”…  Jews are not monolithic… Christians are not monolithic (even Catholics are not)… Muslims are not monolithic… so in the second part there is a kernel of truth, but then they belie that.

    They ‘white-wash’ (pun unintended) that hypocrisy with,

    It’s very important to teach students about anti-Semitism and about Jewish-American history and content is already present in the California standards. 

    But with the adoption of the new, unclear if that will remain…

    I believe in the inclusionary part, and in history, it should be included that some Islamic communities in France, during Vichy/WWII, protected their Jewish neighbors and friends in southern France from the Nazis… risking their lives…

    But the current proposal is deeply flawed, and anyone who argues in favor of it, as written, surely has/have agendas that we should not be subjecting our children to…

    1. Alan Miller

      Agreed WM!

      First of all, I remind the Vanguard Comment readers (all 1% of Davis of us, because we are 1%-ers), of the saying that when you get two Jews in a room, you get three opinions!  Oh, so true.

      I very much disagree with the — no, I CALL-OUT the Vanguard for this offensively-deceptive headline.  Reality doesn’t need rhetorical tricks (it makes its own points), but the Vanguard loves to use them.  The headline for the recent district elections article could have been worded under this criteria “Latinx and Asian Americans Sue the City for District Elections”.  Do you not see the hypocrecency?

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