House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) is demanding an investigation into how the California Department of Education crafted a "blatantly anti-Semitic, anti-Israel" high school curriculum that has fostered unease in the state's pro-Israel and Israeli-American communities.
The Washington Free Beacon reported this week that a group of activist state educators tied to the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or BDS, has hijacked California's Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) to incorporate lessons that many have described as promoting Jew-hatred.
The curriculum has emerged as a flashpoint in a larger battle by BDS activists to mainstream hatred of Israel on American college campuses and, now, in-state public schools.
On Tuesday, following the Free Beacon report and multiple petitions from pro-Israel activists, the committee overseeing the draft curriculum admitted it "falls short and needs to be substantially redesigned."
Lawmakers such as McCarthy and the pro-Israel activists opposed to the curriculum welcomed the decision to rework the anti-Israel curriculum, but said more must be done to expose those behind the initial proposal and its anti-Israel content.
"While I am relieved that California made the obvious decision to revisit this wholly misguided proposal, we need to know why and how a blatantly anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, factually inaccurate curriculum made its way through the ranks of California's Department of Education," McCarthy told the Free Beacon.
"Taxpayer dollars should never be approved to fund a curriculum that whitewashes Israel's history while simultaneously promoting the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to destroy the state of Israel," McCarthy said. "This was not simply an oversight—the California Department of Education's attempt to institutionalize anti-Semitism is not only discriminatory and intolerant, it's dangerous."
McCarthy is now "calling on the state to look into this matter further."
Information published this week by the Free Beacon shows that several of the educators involved in crafting the initial curriculum have promoted anti-Israel causes, including the BDS movement, which seeks to wage economic warfare on Israel and its citizens.
Before the California committee decided to pull the draft curriculum this week, some 83 pro-Israel and anti-discrimination organizations wrote to the state demanding they remove multiple instances of obvious anti-Semitism.
"The anti-Jewish, anti-Israel bias of the proposed ESMC curriculum—including its implicit portrayal of Jews and Israel as part of ‘interlocking systems of oppression and privilege' and its endorsement of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement as a form of ‘direct action' or ‘resistance' that students are encouraged to engage in—clearly exposes the politically motivated and directed nature of the curriculum and its drafters," the organizations wrote.
"Not surprisingly, more than one-quarter of the Model Curriculum Advisory Committee members, appointed by the State Board of Education to draft the ESMC, have publicly expressed animus towards Israel and its supporters, with some members openly supporting BDS," the letter stated.
Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, director of the AMCHA Initiative, which spearheaded the letter to the California state education department, said the move to reconsider the curriculum is a positive first step, but educators must strive to ensure that pro-BDS activists are not permitted to continue working on the effort.
"We are pleased the State Board of Education has recognized the severe problems with this curriculum and agreed to go back to the drawing board," Rossman-Benjamin said. "However, merely revamping the curriculum is like going after the symptoms while ignoring the underlying illness. The State Board of Education must establish overall safeguards to ensure that abusive and unconscionable attempts to hijack an educational curriculum in order to indoctrinate students with political, religious and ethnic hate are never attempted again. If the State Board of Education does not do this, it is imperative that our state’s elected leaders introduce legislation to right this wrong and protect our students."