California School Districts Under Federal Investigation Amid Anti-Semitism Accusations

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January 19, 2024

Two California school districts are under federal investigation amid accusations against the districts of anti-Semitism.

Although it is unclear whether the inquiries are specifically about anti-Semitism, the Department of Education in the past week opened probes into the San Francisco Unified School District and the Oakland Unified School District, both of which have received criticism from Jewish groups, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

The investigations are in response to complaints of discrimination based on "shared ancestry," which Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits, the Bay Area's Jewish Community Relations Council said on X, formerly Twitter.

Last week, the San Francisco Unified School District made headlines after National Review revealed that it suggested teachers use a resource that promoted an article arguing that "Israeli terrorism has been morally worse than that of the Palestinians."

Supported by teachers, high school students in the district staged an October walkout for a ceasefire in the war in Gaza, in which city supervisor Hillary Ronen, who is Jewish, said she saw "the Israeli military commit genocide in our name."

The Oakland district in October also received backlash after its teachers' union published a since-deleted Instagram post that expressed "unequivocal support for Palestinian liberation and self-determination." In demanding a ceasefire and an end to American military aid to Israel, it called on "labor siblings and elected officials to act in unconditional solidarity with the Palestinian people."

The union also made a post on its Facebook page condemning "the 75-year-long illegal military occupation of Palestine" and accusing Israel of creating "an apartheid state" and its leaders of espousing "genocidal rhetoric." It later updated the message with an apology for the Instagram post and a call for the release of hostages Hamas took in its Oct. 7 terror attacks.

The news about the investigations comes as institutions of higher education have also faced accusations of anti-Semitism. Students at Harvard University sued their school last week, alleging that "anti-Jewish hatred" was "rampant." In November, an organization that combats anti-Semitism sued the University of California, Berkeley, for the alleged "longstanding, unchecked spread of anti-Semitism."