The Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) was among the nearly 100 education, civil rights, and religious organizations to sign a letter on Monday calling on the University of California Board of Regents to nix a proposed ethnic studies admissions requirement that would expose high school students to materials demonizing Zionism.
“If the proposal is ultimately approved, virtually every high school in the state will be offering ethnic studies courses based on the course criteria developed by the UC ethnic studies ‘experts’ promoting this proposal,” the letter — organized by the AMCHA Initiative — said. “This is a deeply alarming prospect, given the openly antisemitic sentiments of these ‘experts,’ and their own contention that anti-Zionism constitutes a core element of ‘authentic’ ethnic studies. We urge you to help stop the proliferation of antisemitism in CA high school classrooms by immediately rejecting the UC ethnic studies admissions requirement proposal and publicly guaranteeing that no version of it will be accepted in the future.”
The full text of the letter can be read here.
“In order to appreciate our deep concerns, it’s crucial to see how the UC ethnic studies ‘experts’ pushing this proposal understand their
discipline’s core beliefs, goals and pedagogical practices, and how these will directly harm high school students if the ethnic studies admissions proposal is approved,” the letter said.
“Christine Hong, founder and recent chair of UC Santa Cruz’s Critical Race and Ethnic Studies (CRES) department, director of its affiliated Center for Racial Justice and a leader of the UC Ethnic Studies Council, is co-chair and spokesperson of the UC Academic Senate-appointed Working Group for developing the ethnic studies admissions requirement. She is the lead writer of the course criteria aiming to set the state-wide standard for high school ethnic studies courses,” it noted. “In addition, Hong and two other members of her CRES department are part of the Founding Collective of the recently established and highly controversial Institute for the Critical Study of Zionism. Six other ethnic studies-affiliated faculty from five other UC campuses — including the chair of the UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies Department, former chairs of ethnic studies departments at UC Riverside and UCLA, and faculty from UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara –are on the Institute’s growing Advisory Board.”
“The Institute states that its mission is ‘to support the delinking of the study of Zionism from Jewish Studies’ and proudly claims, ‘[O]ur 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,’ and commit Institute members to ‘join in resistance’ against Zionist repression,” the letter went on to say.
“It is important to emphasize that the vast majority of Jews worldwide view Zionism as the religious, historic, and ethnic ties binding Jews to the Land of Israel,” the letter pointed out. “In fact, a Pew Research Center study found that 80% of Jews view Israel as integral to their Jewish identity. As such, the Institute’s demonizing portrayal of Zionism and commitment to opposing and joining in resistance against it represent a broadside attack on Jews and Jewish identity that is antisemitic in both intent and effect.”