Middle East studies in the News
Report: Los Angeles School District Approved Workshop With Readings Accusing Israel of 'Genocidal Policies'
by Shiri Moshe
The largest public school district in California approved a workshop for teachers containing inflammatory content on Israel with an organization that supports boycotts of the Jewish state.
The voluntary workshop — titled "Learning about Islam and the Arab World" — includes courses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for educators belonging to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), The Israel Group first reported. It was organized by the LA chapter of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FORUSA), an interfaith organization that supports the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, according to its website.
The first session took place on October 14 at the United Teachers Los Angeles development center, with a second portion scheduled for October 21. LAUSD teachers are incentivized to attend the workshop by the prospect of gaining one "salary point" — helping them earn higher pay — if they complete the required assignments.
Upcoming classes at the workshop include "Palestine/Israel," taught by Jeff Cooper, according to an agenda obtained by TIG.
A 40-page primer Cooper reportedly assigned for his lesson calls Israel a "supremacist ethnic state" and "a State of Oppression," alleges that Palestinians are "at the mercy of the Israeli war machine," and claims that non-Jews in the country "do not possess equal rights with their fellow Jewish citizens."
It also accuses Israel of implementing "ethnic cleansing and incremental genocidal policies," and posits that "the Zionist vision, since 1896/97, [was] of a Jewish state in all of historical Palestine, with very few, if any, native Palestinians living in it."
Another class — "Palestine Today: No Way to Treat a Child" — is led by Rola Karam, who previously presented at a conference for the pro-BDS group Sabeel. According to the Anti-Defamation League, Sabeel's past "efforts to demonize Israel and Israelis have ... featured charges of deicide against Jews."
Shannon Haber, a spokesperson for LAUSD, told The Algemeiner that "'Learning About Islam and the Arab World'" was reviewed for multicultural awareness, respect for diversity, dialogue, and non-violent conflict resolution, and alignment to the California History Social Studies Standard 7.2."
While the standards referenced by Haber — adopted by the California State Board of Education for seventh grade history and social science content — touch on material related to the birth and development of Islam and Muslim civilizations, they do not mention content related to Israel or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"Classes are approved in 5-year increments; this class was last approved in 2013," Haber added. "Meeting the criteria for inclusion does not constitute an endorsement of the L.A. Unified."
FORUSA has held multiple workshops for educators on Islam and the Middle East, and not only in conjunction with LAUSD.
The Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) has promoted a two-day workshop — also on "Islam and the Arab World" — held by FORUSA for educators on October 4, with a second session scheduled for October 25.
As was the case with the LAUSD workshop, event details on OCDE's website include no mention of Israel or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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