'Profoundly Irresponsible': Cruz Demands Answers on Teachers' Union's Anti-Semitic 'Teach-In'

Unionized Oakland teachers taught public school students about 'intifada,' Israeli 'apartheid'

Sen. Ted Cruz (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
December 19, 2023

Texas Republican senator Ted Cruz penned a letter to President Joe Biden's education secretary and California's school superintendent demanding an investigation into a local teachers' union's anti-Semitic "teach-in," which included curriculum materials glorifying Palestinian "Intifada" and condemning Israeli "apartheid."

At least 70 Oakland K-12 public school teachers participated in the unauthorized teach-in, which was held earlier this month. Anonymous organizers curated a list of curriculum materials for the event, some of which called Israel an "apartheid state," accused the Jewish state of "genocide," and taught children that "Intifada" is "Arabic for rising up for what is right." Now, Cruz is demanding that Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and California superintendent of public instruction Tony Thurmond unmask those organizers.

"In light of these details, it is difficult to imagine a more reckless message to send to K-12ers in the aftermath of the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust than this seething anti-Israel propaganda," the letter states. "During a time when American Jews and Israelis are being subjected to an unprecedented amount of harassment and hate crimes, it is profoundly irresponsible to tolerate such blatant anti-Israel indoctrination."

Cruz went on to demand Cardona and Thurmond provide "a comprehensive list" of the teach-in's participants and organizers. "If you are unable to determine who participated in or organized the event due to their anonymity," Cruz asked, "do you think it is appropriate for these individuals to remain anonymous, given their unauthorized behavior?"

Neither Cardona nor Thurmond returned requests for comment.

The Dec. 6 teach-in, its anonymous organizers said, aimed to provide students with "educational resources on Palestine" and "help young people develop … a willingness to recognize and confront injustice in their communities."

Participants received a list of recommended materials, some of which were provided by Jewish Voice for Peace, an anti-Israel organization that has conducted illegal protests inside the U.S. Capitol. Those materials accused Israel of punishing Palestinians with arrests, assassinations, and raids "all to gain maximum land" and called Gaza the "largest open-air prison on earth."

Other materials explained why teachers should use the word "genocide" to "describe the situation in Gaza" and urged educators to refrain from "taking a position on Hamas." In one case, however, a teach-in worksheet did take a position on Hamas—it referred to the terrorist organization as a "resistance movement to Israeli occupation."

"By allowing impressionable K-12 students to be subjected to a one-sided, activist-driven narrative downplaying the depravity of Hamas's terrorism and tacitly endorsing anti-Semitism, you are complicit in endangering lives," Cruz wrote in his letter.

In addition to his demand that Cardona and Thurmond identify the teach-in's participants and organizers, Cruz in his letter called on the pair of liberal officials to detail "what disciplinary action, if any, has been taken against them" and provide a "detailed memo explaining the specific steps you are going to take to ensure that Jewish Americans enjoy equal protection under the law in the schools in your jurisdiction."

"Calls for violence against American citizens are unacceptable," Cruz wrote. "In light of these very serious concerns, we await your details and speedy response."