The Los Angeles Unified School District, the largest public school system in California and the second largest school district in the United States, approved a workshop for K-12 teachers that is unequivocally anti-Israel. The program is produced by an anti-Israel organization called Fellowship of Reconciliation, which supports boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
The L.A.-based non-profit advocacy organization StandWithUs reports that these workshops have also been co-sponsored by the Orange County Department of Education and the Orange County Human Relations Council.
The workshops are based around a completely one-sided primer, “Palestine, Israel and the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” written by two anti-Israel academic activists and filled with factual errors and omissions. Despite numerous archaeological discoveries attesting to the existence of King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem and Israel’s historic ties to the Temple Mount, the document claims that no such evidence has been found. Denying that Jews have a historical connection to modern day Israel is a common theme of the text.
The document also downplays and rationalizes Palestinian terrorism and ignores the dispossession of nearly one million Jews from Arab countries. Considering that over half of Israel’s Jewish population originates from the Middle East and Africa, the document’s constant designation of Israeli Jews as “European settlers” is baffling.
This geographically-challenged handout also claims that Israel is a “supremacist ethnic state” and that Palestinians are “at the mercy of the Israeli war machine.” It also states that non-Jews in Israel “do not possess equal rights with their fellow Jewish citizens,” while accusing Israel of committing genocide against Arabs.
The truth is that while Israel is a Jewish state, it is the only country in the Middle East that offers equal rights to all of its citizens. Israel’s Declaration of Independence ensures complete social and political rights “to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.” LGBT rights in Israel are the most advanced in the region, where hundreds of gay Palestinians fleeing to Israel are granted asylum and permanent residency.
Not by any stretch of the imagination is Israel committing genocide against the Palestinian population. According to the CIA World Factbook, the population of Gaza increased from around 730,000 in 1995, to approximately two million by July 2015. Similarly, the Palestinian population in the so-called West Bank has nearly doubled since 1994. According to the Middle East Forum, out of an estimated 11 million Muslims who have been killed in Middle East wars since 1948, only 0.3% died from conflicts involving Israel.
If Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians, it’s doing an incredibly poor job. Especially considering that Israel has one of the most powerful militaries in the world. In fact, compared to anywhere else in the Middle East, Israel is the best place to be an Arab. The Jewish State has over 400 mosques, a fivefold increase since 1988. Approximately 300 imams and muezzins receive their salaries from the Israeli government, which also funds Islamic schools and colleges.
Israeli Arabs occupy prominent positions throughout Israeli politics and society. Among them is Salim Joubran, former vice president of Israel’s Supreme Court. During Israel’s 2015 elections, Joubran served as chairman of the Central Election Committee and was in charge of registering lists of those running for Israel’s parliament and dealing with challenges to the results. Though Joubran retired earlier this year, another Israeli Arab (George Karra) remains on Israel’s Supreme Court.
Someone must have forgotten to tell these judges that Israel is committing genocide against them.
But it would make sense that this document is rife with factual and historical errors, since it doesn’t bother to offer citations or even a bibliography. If it fails the most basic academic standards, why is it being used as a teaching tool? Hate mongering has absolutely no place in the classroom, and this propaganda clearly is meant only to delegitimize the State of Israel. California must stop this academic travesty and anti-Israel incitement being propagated in its schools.
Bradley Martin is a Senior Fellow with the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center and Deputy Editor for the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research