While the Progressive Zionists of California is incredibly pleased with many of the changes to the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum and the primary focus on the four foundational disciplines, we still have significant concerns about the portrayal of Jewish Americans.
The revised draft took thousands of comments into account when it removed political biases, blatant antisemitism, and the overt erasure of Middle Eastern minority groups. The new draft made important and substantive improvements, including a commitment to offering “multiple and often competing sources of information” to students.
Unfortunately, the failure to understand Jewish history and culture in an intersectional context has resulted in a draft that still contains lingering antisemitism. While significantly improved from the 2019 draft, this 2020 draft erases the existence of Jews of Color, ignores the history of Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews, and emphasizes Jewish acquisition of white privilege instead of substantively addressing modern Jew-hatred. This should alarm any progressive, much less any Jewish progressive, in California.
For example, the draft includes language that compares Jewish assimilation to Irish assimilation in America in a way that falsely implies antisemitism can be solved through the acquisition of whiteness, while also actively erasing the existence of Jews of Color, including California’s sizable Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewish populations. The draft clearly does not recognize the central role of antisemitism within white nationalism — a primary driver of online extremism that results in dangerous, real world violence.
We remain committed to supporting ethnic studies, AB 2016, and all efforts to help California education reflect our state’s diversity. We hope that the drafters of this curriculum consult with educational groups like JIMENA to remove lingering antisemitism and create a draft that embraces intersectionality.
About Progressive Zionists of California
Progressive Zionists of California is a grassroots collective of activists and California Democratic Party leaders dedicated to reshaping the discourse around Zionism and antisemitism in California Democratic politics. PZC educates activists about antisemitism and intersectional Zionism with a firm commitment to Palestinian statehood. Our constituents advocate for pragmatic progressive platforms, resolutions, and legislation around domestic and Israel-related issues.