By: Kate Anderson, Daily Caller News Foundation
A California school district board voted to approve two new ethnic studies courses this week that would teach high school students that Israel has committed “war crimes” and ethnically cleansed Palestinians, according to the curriculum.
The Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) approved two new courses titled Ethnic Studies: World Geography and Ethnic Studies World Histories for the upcoming fall semester. The courses push anti-Israel sentiment despite Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California coming out against a similar curriculum proposal last year due to its supposed antisemitic bias.
SAUSD’s World Geography course description explains that high school students will be learning about “interdisciplinary strategies that highlight the plight of peoples traditionally marginalized,” and studying the “social hegemonies between cultures of power and indigenous groups.” One such culture of “power” the course considers is Israel, specifically in the context of the Palestinian conflict in the West Bank and Gaza.
In the second unit of the course titled “Colonialism’s Impacts on Migration,” Israel is considered one of several “colonial empires” and some of the supplemental material used for the course accuses the Jewish state of war crimes against Palestinians, while others compared the country to the apartheid state in South Africa.
One Op-Ed from the Middle East Monitor, which was cited as supplemental material in the course, continually referred to any Israeli presence in the West Bank or Gaza as an occupation and accused Israel of ”ethnically cleansing” Palestinians from the land in 1967. While the article notes that the Palestinian government, which is tied to multiple terrorist groups, does little to help its people, the blame for the situation in the disputed territories was placed on Israel.
“This vulnerability is compounded by the fact that the Palestinian Authority (PA) acts with little regard to Palestinians living in ‘Area C’ who are left to withstand and resist Israeli pressures alone, often resorting to Israel’s own unfair judicial system, to win back some of their basic rights,” according to the Op-ED. “In other words, ethnic cleansing, which has been Israel’s strategic goal all along.”
Students are then asked questions such as how “the settlement of Israelis after WWII changed …the sovereignty of Palestinians over time” and how the Israeli “blockade” of Gaza “affect[s] the livelihoods of the Palestinians in that region?”
In the World Histories course, under the list of textbooks and resources, a book titled “The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing,” is listed as one of the reading suggestions. The book’s description claims that “ethnic cleansing” in Israel is propped up by “American imperialism.”
“Today the Palestinian cause is decidedly proletarian in its tone, seeing its oppressor as an exploiting and colonial Israel – backed up by American imperialism – while Israelis and Americans claim they are defending civilization against primitive terrorists,” the book says. “The arguments are similar to those of class enemies of former times… For half a century, Israelis have been cleansing the occupied territories of native Arabs, most murderously in the late 1940s, renewed again in the Jewish land-grabbing of the past few years.”
A similar curriculum was proposed by the state legislature several years earlier but over 3,000 concerned Californians signed a petition calling on Gov. Newsom to veto the bill, arguing it would push an “anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist” curriculum in schools across the state, according to the California Globe. Newsom agreed with those concerns and later vetoed the bill, according to The Washington Post.
In response, California’s Assembly Bill 101 was signed into law in 2021 prohibiting districts from passing curriculum that would “reflect or promote, directly or indirectly, any bias, bigotry, or discrimination against any person or group of persons on the basis of any category protected” by the state’s anti-discrimination laws.
Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs, an antisemitism watchdog organization, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that SAUSD’s curriculum is “one-sided” and fails to meet the requirements of Assembly Bill 101.
“SAUSD’s board voted to approve ethnic studies courses that erase 3,000 years of Jewish history and connection to Israel, by framing Jews as colonizers in their ancestral home,” Rothstein said. “The courses include one-sided and inaccurate materials regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and exclude the history of Jewish refugees who fled or were expelled from Arab states and Iran. This goes against the spirit, if not the letter, of California’s K-12 ethnic studies law, not to mention SAUSD policy in regards to teaching controversial issues.”
SAUSD and Newsom did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.