February 16, 2024 | Washington Examiner

California teachers caught sharing pro-Hamas propaganda

February 16, 2024 | Washington Examiner

California teachers caught sharing pro-Hamas propaganda

On campuses, numerous pro-Palestinian groups celebrated the Oct. 7 massacre of 1,200 Israelis as an act of “resistance” while blaming Israel for the outbreak of violence. However, it would be a mistake to assume that only institutions of higher education nurture this kind of distorted worldview. A controversy in Oakland shows that teachers are also promoting bigotry in our K-12 schools.

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights sent a letter to Oakland Unified School District on Jan. 16 announcing an investigation of alleged discrimination against Jewish students.

The investigation follows the departure of at least 30 Jewish families from the district amid growing concern regarding their children’s safety and the harm inflicted by a hostile learning environment. Investigators asked for a substantive response to 2 1/2 pages of questions by Jan. 31.

OCR will investigate whether the district violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by allowing and mishandling an unauthorized Dec. 6 teach-in organized by the Oakland Education Association for Palestine, an activist group within the local teachers union. At least 70 teachers and over 100 students reportedly attended the event during the school day. Following the teach-in, OCR received a complaint alleging teachers taught students that a “free Palestine means the annihilation of Jews.”

The teach-in’s organizers assembled online a cache of recommended classroom materials that provide ample reason for concern. While the pre-K through high school level materials often refer to benevolent themes of peace, family, and home, don’t be fooled. A closer examination reveals an antisemitic disinformation campaign focused on undermining Israel’s right to exist.

Decolonize Palestine, one of the resources recommended for upper grades, presents a variety of so-called “myths” regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Two of the alleged myths are that Israel is a democracy and that Israel has a right to exist. This is deliberate miseducation. The material also frames discussion of the Holocaust as an effort to “transfer Europe’s guilt onto the Palestinians.” The curricula also push the antisemitic slogan “from the river to the sea,” brushes aside any concern that anti-Zionism is rooted in antisemitism, and villainizes Israel by calling it an apartheid state.

In addition, the site denies Hamas’s use of Palestinian civilians as human shields, an abhorrent reality recognized by President Joe Biden in his remarks following Oct. 7.

The teach-in’s curricular resources also steer teachers toward antisemitic, anti-Israeli materials for younger students. In the video “Baba, What Does My Name Mean?” children are taught to support the elimination of Israel: “Pay close attention to what you are about to see. We will outline the map of Palestine, from the river to the sea,” Salam, the Dove of Peace, says.

A “List of Books” provides access to Zain and Mima Stand for Palestine, a narrative that promotes the boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign, an antisemitic movement that praised Hamas for its actions on Oct. 7. The book teaches impressionable young people to view Israelis as wrongdoers and thieves.

The plug for BDS for children goes this way: “Before we buy anything, we must check out an organization called BDS. It gives us an important list of companies that support Zionists.” A YouTube video features the Oakland author reading her work aloud to children.

This is just a sampling from the extensive curriculum the Oakland Education Association for Palestine has pushed on public school children. When the false veneer of innocence and good intentions is stripped away, what is left is clear. This radical group is advancing a campaign of disinformation and hate that seeks to create antisemites and undermine support in the United States for Israel’s existence. It is remarkable how aligned the group’s goals are with the ideology of Hamas.

Many national security experts and foreign policy analysts rarely give K-12 education a second thought. Adversaries of the U.S. and antisemitic enemies of Israel here at home relish that blind spot and hope it endures.

Last fall, we witnessed madness and vitriol on college campuses, much of it stoked by organizations such as Students for Justice in Palestine. Campus antisemites gleefully tore down posters of hostages, chanting hate and intimidating Jewish students, some of whom were forced to hide in libraries, fearing for their lives. Unless leaders at all levels and in communities across this country take action to stop radical activists from indoctrinating K-12 school children with a Hamas-style ideology, we will see much worse in the future.

It remains to be seen how the federal investigation goes and what action is taken in Oakland.

But one thing is certain: We must ensure that unsupervised radicals pretending to be trustworthy public school teachers are not allowed to use their positions of power in the classroom to create a new generation of antisemites.

Jewish families in America should never have to flee their schools.

Antonette Bowman is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.


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