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Antisemitism in America: Teachers Introduce BDS-like Materials for Pre-Schoolers

As the Israel-Hamas war rages on, some educators in America haven’t stood idly by. But instead of teaching young children about the dangers of antisemitism, they have attempted to normalize anti-Israeli views in school curricula….

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As the Israel-Hamas war rages on, some educators in America haven’t stood idly by.

But instead of teaching young children about the dangers of antisemitism, they have attempted to normalize anti-Israeli views in school curricula.

The Oakland Education Association (OEA), a teachers union in California, used the jargon of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign last month when it voted to “become involved in the growing anti-apartheid movement demanding freedom for Palestine…” and resolved to distribute “educational materials and resources” to teachers:

Related Reading: BDS: Myths and Facts

In accordance with that decision, the OEA issued the following statement last week — without any mention of Hamas’ genocidal October 7 rampage across southern Israel:

We, the Oakland Education Association, mourn the tragic loss of both Palestinian and Israeli lives these past weeks. We unequivocally condemn the 75 year long illegal military occupation of Palestine. The Israeli government created an apartheid state and the Israeli government leaders have espoused genocidal rhetoric and policies against the people of Palestine. As educators of a diverse community here in Oakland, including those with family and friends directly impacted, our conscience demands that we say clearly that OEA calls for a ceasefire and an end to the occupation of Palestine.

After facing criticism, the OEA updated its statement, adding that “our union unequivocally condemns anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. We call for the release of hostages held by Hamas.” But the union’s original statement remains unaltered, and it still plans to hold “a teach-in on the Palestinian struggle” later this week:

 

While smearing as Zionist propaganda the official materials distributed by the Oakland County School District on the Israel-Hamas war, the OEA introduced alternative resources, the contents of which espouse nothing less than hatred against the world’s only Jewish state.

For example, the OEA’s pedagogical offer to pre-K through 3rd graders includes “Handala’s Return: A Children’s Story and Workbook” presenting the plight of a young Palestinian kid, Handala, whose political cartoon character has become the iconic symbol of Palestinian “resistance” and has been widely adopted by the BDS movement:

The claim that “Zionist bullies” scare and torment non-Jewish children, and steal their homes, is blatantly false. Moreover, it draws on centuries of antisemitic blood libels portraying Jews as evil predators who prey on non-Jewish children.

Handala’s story continues:

What the workbook creators don’t reveal in this example is that ‘Yafa’ is Jaffa, located in undisputed Israeli sovereign territory; and that ‘Al Quds’ is Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. Including them as part of “Free Palestine” is the equivalent of calling for the destruction of Israel.

According to OEA’s database, the source for “Handala’s Return” story is “The Palestinian Feminist Collective.” A quick search reveals that this organization glorified Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel as “a Palestinian triumph”:

 

And here is an exercise sheet for 3rd-5th graders giving the impression that Israel is an apartheid state created just because Jews were “killed and mistreated” during World War II (and not because of their historical ties to the land):

 

And a resource called “Art and Action in Palestine” for pre-K through 2nd grade presents an interactive map titled “Palestine Shrinking, Expanding Israel” with the following talking points:

75 years ago, a lot of decision makers around the world decided to take away Palestinian land to make a country called Israel. Israel would be a country where rules were mostly fair for Jewish people with white skin.

All of the examples above, which are only a few “highlights” from the OEA’s educational resources, implicitly violate the IHRA working definition of antisemitism.

Related Reading: Time for the Media to Adopt Antisemitism Definition

The OEA says that they don’t want to indoctrinate, but rather “introduce our students to a range of perspectives.”

But the only perspective presented in their curriculum is one that generates decades-old hatred towards the Jewish people.

Despite some local media coverage and a story in Newsweek, this dangerous initiative passed largely under the radar.

But when educators use their position to impose BDS-like content on young American minds and rely on sources that praise terrorism, it should raise national and global alarm bells.

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