University of California (UC) faculty who were tasked with developing California ethnic studies high school standards, referred to Jews as “highly funded lobby groups,” and called “racism” and “censorship” the attempts to prevent antisemitic materials from becoming part of ethnic studies courses.
In a newly-exposed letter they sent to Governor Newsom and Superintendent Thurmond on September 8, the UC Ethnic Studies Faculty Council also attacked the Governor’s recent caution to schools that ethnic studies courses must not contain bias, bigotry, or discriminatory materials, including anti-Zionism.
Ninety-nine education, civil rights, and religious organizations, in an effort organized by AMCHA Initiative, presented the Council’s letter to the University of California Board of Regents at its meeting this week, as evidence of the Council’s antisemitic sentiments, and demanded the Regents reject the Council’s proposal for a UC ethnic studies admissions requirement that is being considered by the University of California.
The proposal, if approved, would force virtually every high school student to take an ethnic studies course whose content would be determined by UC faculty “experts” who believe antisemitic portrayals of Jews and anti-Zionism should be incorporated into high school ethnic studies courses.
The coalition of organizations pointed out that the UC Ethnic Studies Council’s letter, as well as past actions and statements of Council leaders, “underscore how highly inappropriate it is for these individuals to be developing the state’s ethnic studies standards.”
The letter warns that “given the openly antisemitic sentiments of these ‘experts,’ and their own contention that anti-Zionism constitutes a core element of ‘authentic’ ethnic studies,” such a scenario would likely include antisemitic content in the mandatory ethnic studies class that students would have to take or risk being ineligible for UC enrollment.
For example, Christine Hong, co-chair of the UC Ethnic Studies Council, is part of the Founding Collective of the recently established and highly controversial Institute for the Critical Study of Zionism. Six other Council members serve on the Institute’s growing Advisory Board. The Institute proudly claims, “Our opposition to Zionism…is a first principle.” The “Points of Unity” guiding the Institute’s work identify Zionism as “a settler colonial racial project” linked to “group supremacy,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “racism.” Hong and three other UC Council faculty are helping to organize the Institute’s inaugural conference, entitled “Battling the ‘IHRA Definition’: Theory and Practice,” aimed at delegitimizing the most authoritative and widely accepted definition of antisemitism. The conference is also sponsored by the UC Ethnic Studies Council.
On a recent podcast, Hong drew on antisemitic tropes of Jewish power and malevolence and accused Jewish organizations in North America of being “antagonists” in all of ethnic studies’ struggles against racism and colonialism. Hong asserted that Jewish groups’ attempts to keep antisemitism out of high school ethnic studies classrooms in California were examples of “U.S. fascism,” while her colleague Emmaia Gelman, on the same podcast, accused the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish organizations that fight antisemitism of “racism” and “white supremacy.”
In addition, Hong and many of her Council colleagues are vocal proponents of BDS, including committing to integrate the antisemitic boycott into their teaching and academic work, and are strongly aligned and work closely with leaders of the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Consortium (Liberated), whose founders and affiliated educators were involved with developing the antisemitic first draft of the state-mandated model curriculum and are now peddling an even more antisemitic version of the first-draft curriculum throughout the state. A large advertisement for the Liberated group’s services is prominently displayed on the homepage of Hong’s department, and a Liberated-focused course is being taught by a UC Ethnic Studies Council Steering Committee member who helped write the UC ethnic studies admissions requirement proposal and course criteria.
The “proposal is an outrage. It is both wrong and highly dangerous. At a time of record high antisemitism, it must be stopped. We urge you to immediately reject the UC ethnic studies admissions requirement proposal and publicly guarantee that no version of it will be accepted in the future,” wrote the organizations which include the American Jewish Congress, B’nai B’rith International, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, World Jewish Congress North America, Club Z, Association of Jewish Psychologists, the Daniel Pearl Foundation, Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and numerous California campus organizations including Bruins for Israel, Davis Faculty for Israel, and Hillels of Davis and Sacramento, San Diego, and Silicon Valley.