Controversial ethnic studies, plagued by anti-Jewish bias, coming to California schools

The state is set to vote on Thursday on the final revision of its ethnic studies curriculum, which had been condemned as anti-Semitic.

Tags: California
Dan Verbin ,


Concerns among California's Jews are mounting as the state's Department of Education is set to vote on Thursday on the final revision of its controversial ethnic studies curriculum, which had been strongly condemned by Jewish and pro-Israel groups since its creation for harboring anti-Semitic and anti-Israel subject matter.

The controversial Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, which focuses on viewing subject matter through the lens of social justice, progressive ideology and critical race theory, is expected to be approved by the board at the meeting.

The educational mandate has faced a lengthy battle to win approval during a tense period in U.S. history when issues of race and the interpretation of American identity and history have come to the forefront of the national debate.

Jewish and pro-Israel critics have challenged that the curriculum amounts to anti-Semitism and contains clear anti-Israel libels. In addition, they add that as an ethnic studies curriculum it fails to address the issue of Jew hatred, and during the design process failed to seek the input of Jewish Americans.

During the fall, critics of the material's Jewish content were optimistic when it was revised to remove an extensively condemned lesson that accused the American Jewish community of gaining "racial privilege" while failing to mention Jew hatred and anti-Semitic violence suffered by the Jewish community.

The newest revision removes some of the criticized content while adding lessons on the Jewish experience and adds a definition of anti-Semitism.

Still, others are not pleased that the controversial mandate is going ahead. Advocacy group End Jew Hatred recently held a rally against the curriculum and voices in the community are speaking out against the dangers it poses.

"Somehow, in their attempt to fight bigotry, the authors of the ethnic studies model curriculum ended up working with individuals and organizations with a history of hating Jews," wrote Brooke Goldstein, executive director of the Lawfare Project, in Newsweek. "They set up an antagonistic framing in which Jews are seen as oppressive and powerful, adopting age-old anti-Semitic stereotypes into educational materials that are ostensibly designed to combat racism."