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Holocaust Survivors Urge Newsom to Veto “Dangerous” Ethnic Studies Requirement Bill


Contact: Nicole Rosen

Santa Cruz, CA, September 23, 2021 – Hundreds of Holocaust survivors and their descendants today urged Governor Gavin Newsom to veto AB 101, a bill mandating an ethnic studies high school graduation requirement.  The California legislature recently voted to advance AB 101, and the bill now heads to Newsom, who has until Oct. 10 to act.

“We are Holocaust survivors and the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, who are deeply alarmed by AB 101, the ethnic studies graduation requirement bill, and the likelihood that it will lead to overtly antisemitic curricula making their way into every high school in the state and inciting hatred and hostility towards Jewish students and the Jewish community in California and well beyond. We strongly urge you to veto this bill,” wrote the Holocaust survivors in their petition.

The signatories point out that despite amendments added to AB 101 before it passed the legislature to encourage local school districts to use the state-approved Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC), the bill would still permit local school districts to use any curriculum, including the highly controversial and overtly antisemitic first ESMC draft or the even more dangerously antisemitic Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum.

The first ESMC draft was roundly rejected by all Jewish communal organizations, Governor Newsom, the State Board of Education, and California’s Jewish Legislative Caucus for its antisemitic content and promotion of BDS. After that draft failed, the authors of the first draft founded the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Institute, and their curriculum is expected to be even more antisemitic than ESMC.  The Liberated group’s website smears Israel with false charges of “settler colonialism” and “apartheid” and uses classic anti-Semitic tropes of Jewish wealth and power to vilify Jewish organizations speaking out about anti-Semitism; encourages teachers to “create a space within your school” to engage in anti-Zionist activism and to fight the “Zionist backlash,” identified as “white supremacy”; promotes anti-Zionist groups calling for Israel’s destruction; and provides “skill-building” and “training” on how to start your own BDS campaign.

“Alarmingly, the state’s largest teachers’ unions and ethnic studies departments and faculty on UC and CSU campuses have warmly endorsed the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Institute (LESMC), a for-profit organization launched by the original ESMC drafters to market a ‘Liberated’ curriculum that incorporates the main elements of the rejected first draft. In addition, the LESMC group has already had considerable success in promoting their antisemitic curriculum and consulting services in school districts throughout the state, including Hayward, Santa Cruz, Jefferson, Salinas, San Francisco and San Diego,” wrote the Holocaust survivors.

“As Jews, and particularly as Holocaust survivors and their descendants, we say ‘never again!’  Never again will we permit antisemitism to flourish.  This is a moment when we cannot remain silent - and you must not, either,” continued the signatories. “We implore you to veto this very dangerous bill.”

Earlier this week, nearly 200 California high school students and parents signed a petition opposing AB 101, citing “[t]his bill will sanction the hounding of Zionist students in high schools across the state and encourage similar behavior across the nation.”

Last year AMCHA successfully urged Governor Newsom to veto AB 331, the precursor of AB 101, and AMCHA’s Director, 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’s Director, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, has testified before the California Senate Education Committee and the Assembly Education Committee against AB 101, and provided evidence that if AB 101 becomes law, most school districts will adopt some version of the rejected antisemitic first draft.

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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