California Jewish lawmakers are calling for revisions to a proposed state ethnic studies curriculum that they said promotes anti-Semitic stereotypes and unfairly criticizes Israel, according to a letter they sent to the Department of Education last month.
The letter was sent by the California Legislative Jewish Caucus to Soomin Chao, chair of the commission that oversees the implementation of the state’s first high school Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum.
The lawmakers said the proposed curriculum “erases the American Jewish experience, fails to discuss anti-Semitism, reinforces negative stereotypes about Jews, singles out Israel for criticism and would institutionalize the teaching of anti-Semitic stereotypes in our public schools.”
The letter calls the omission of anti-Semitism “deeply troubling,” citing recent violence targeted at Jews. In October 2018, a gunman killed 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. In April, another gunman killed a worshiper and injured others at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue near San Diego.
The letter also cites the August 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia where torch-carrying men marched to a Confederate monument and chanted, “Jews will not replace us.”
“We find it alarming — to say the least — that at a time when Nazis are marching openly in Charlottesville chanting ‘Jews will not replace us,’ and Jews in our own state are being physically attacked in houses of worship, the (commission) would intentionally turn a blind eye to hatred and discrimination against our community,” the letter reads.
The model curriculum is the first proposed after a law passed in 2016 that required the commission to construct ethnic studies courses. Schools are not required to adopt the coursework.