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4,000 Sign Petition Castigating Legislative Jewish Caucus for Supporting Bill That Revives Rejected, Antisemitic Ethnic Studies Curriculum and Erases Two Years of Work by Jewish Community

Petitioners Demand Legislators Stand Up for Jewish Students and Jewish Community

Contact: Nicole Rosen

Santa Cruz, CA, July 15, 2021 – Despite hearing from nearly 70 rabbis, more than 1,000 California residents, and 75 religious and civil rights organizations about how AB 101, the bill requiring ethnic studies for high school graduation, will enable the rejected and highly antisemitic original Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) into California classrooms, every Jewish Caucus member supported the bill in the Assembly vote. Thousands of California voters today said that’s not okay and demanded the legislators use their final chance to stand up for Jewish students and the Jewish community when the bill comes before the Senate.

The petitioners pointed out that alarming new developments raise the stakes even further, including skyrocketing anti-Zionist-motivated antisemitism; California school districts committing to adopt the original antisemitic draft; and the two largest teachers unions in the state and several University of California ethnic studies departments, essentially those responsible for training the high school teachers, endorsing BDS.

We were “deeply disappointed that not only did every Legislative Jewish Caucus Assemblymember vote in favor of AB 101, but Caucus Chair Jesse Gabriel even made a speech on the Assembly floor that spoke about the bill in glowing terms and belittled concerns about antisemitism that were shared by a non-Jewish Assemblymember,” wrote the petitioners.

“Anyone who understands the threats that are currently facing the Jewish community can understand why AB 101, as well-intentioned as it may be, will unleash a torrent of anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist sentiment, hostility and aggression into classrooms throughout the state if it becomes law. The vast majority of California Jews understand this. As the CA Senate stands poised to vote on AB 101, please stand up and oppose this bill. There is still time to do the right thing,” urged the petitioners.

The full petition can be seen here.

AMCHA Initiative Director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin testified yesterday before the California Senate Education Committee and earlier this Spring before the Assembly Education Committee against AB 101. Rossman-Benjamin exposed in her testimony and her recent JNS op-ed compelling evidence that if AB 101 becomes law, most school districts in the state will adopt some version of the overtly anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist first draft of the state-mandated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum that was rejected by the State Board of Education in 2019, and she points out that some school districts, such as Hayward Unified, have already committed to adopting and implementing a version of the antisemitic draft and others are poised to follow suit.

AMCHA also submitted a formal and comprehensive position letter to the Committee. The letter details how and why any curriculum rooted in Critical Ethnic Studies can easily become a vehicle for inciting division and hate, including antisemitism since the discipline portrays Jewish Americans as racially privileged oppressors and Israel as a white supremacist apartheid state.

Last year AMCHA successfully urged Governor Newsom to veto AB 331, the precursor of AB 101, and Rossman-Benjamin was the first to expose the way in which the discipline of Critical Ethnic Studies is deeply antisemitic and anti-Zionist. AMCHA has led several coalition efforts to educate officials about the dangers of a curriculum based on Critical Ethnic Studies.

AMCHA monitors more than 450 college campuses across the U.S. for anti-Semitic activity. The organization has recorded more than 3,500 anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses since 2015. Its daily Anti-Semitism Tracker, organized by state and university, can be viewed here.

AMCHA Initiative is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to combating anti-Semitism at colleges and universities in the United States.

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