| Outlook |

Hey, Kids, It’s Cool to Hate Jews

A very partial solution at best. But one that might benefit many Jewish elementary and high school students



there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein,” declared Justice Robert Jackson in his oft-quoted opinion in Barnette vs. West Virginia State Board of Education (1943), which struck down the state’s mandatory flag salute statute.

That message appears to be lost, as “social justice” programs, which are little more than ideological indoctrination centers worthy of Pol Pot, proliferate at both public and private universities. But at least students in those worthless degree programs choose to be there. Far more frightening are mandatory courses for all students, such as that in “structural racism” required for all first-year students at UCLA Medical School, a public university.

A recent guest lecturer, Lisa “Tiny” Gray-Garcia, whose primary qualifications are having been both homeless and incarcerated, spoke with her face covered by a keffiyeh. She instructed all the students to get on their knees and touch the floor — “mama earth.” She also led the class in chants of “Free, Free Palestine.”

As described by the Free Beacon, she decried modern medicine as “white science,” inveighed against “Turtle Island” (the United States), before asking students to stand for another prayer.

Throughout, the director of the course, a UCLA pediatrician, observed without comment. But when one student refused to stand for the second prayer, a UCLA administrator demanded his name, and suggested that he might be subject to discipline for his refusal.

How does such a compulsory class not violate both Barnette and a long line of Supreme Court decisions dating back more than sixty years banning school prayer?

BUT EVEN WORSE than when medical students are subjected to such indoctrination on the public’s dime is when it takes place at the high school level and even younger, down to pre-kindergarten.

Franklin Foer began his much-discussed long piece in the Atlantic, “The Golden Age of American Jews Is Ending” (April 2024), with a text from Stacey Zolt Hara’s 16-year-old daughter to her mother: “I’m scared.” Just eleven days after October 7 and before any Israeli invasion of Gaza, the daughter’s classmates were staging a walkout to protest Israel, while chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Hara was likely chosen by Foer because she had deliberately chosen to move from Chicago to Berkeley to find a community more in tune with her progressive politics,

On the quickly formed WhatsApp group of concerned Jewish parents in Berkeley and neighboring school districts, they discussed how the walkout was a direct consequence of what their children were being taught in school. Activists in the Oakland Educational Association, the local teachers’ union, for instance, sponsored a webinar entitled “From Gaza to Oakland: How Does the Issue Connect to Us,” in which the primarily black and Hispanic students in the school district were taught that the Israeli military works closely with American police departments, “cycling back repression here.” For students too young for the webinar, there were helpful children’s books for teachers to hand out, like Handala’s Return, which describes how a “group of bullies called Zionists wanted our land so they stole it by force and hurt many people.”

Public school education provided license for students to express loathing of their Jewish classmates. Zolt’s middle-school son was approached by a classmate playing what he called a “Nazi salute song” on his phone. Soon the middle school staged its own walkout. One Jewish parent filmed the event. “Are you Jewish?” one tween asks another, to which the latter replies, “No way. I ….. hate them,” while another adds, “Kill Israel.”

As Foer sums up the position of Jewish students, “At every step in their education, they had learned about a world divided between oppressors and oppressed,” and now they suddenly found out that they were the bad guys. At a meeting of the East Bay Jewish Student Union, a boy wearing a kippah asks to speak to Foer privately, as he does not want to start crying in front of his peers when he describes the abuse to which he has been constantly subjected.

On the way to the school basketball courts, he is taunted, “There goes the Jew, taking everyone’s land.” The boy tells Foer that he did not bother to tell a school administrator because nothing would change. Foer is confident that he is right.

THE INCIDENTS DESCRIBED by Foer are not isolated. Though the situation varies from region to region, and even school district to school district,  shaming of Jewish students and attacks on Israel are not confined to any single area of the country. Even in deep red states, the state educational apparatus is often captured by radicalized teacher college graduates. The anti-Israel propaganda is abetted by state and local educational bureaucracies, local school boards, national and local teachers’ unions, and by anti-Israeli curricula sponsored by Qatar.

Francesca Block tells the story at The Free Press (the justly most popular Substack site, by virtue of both the quality and quantity of its offerings), in “How US Public Schools Teach Antisemitism.”

In her opening anecdote, Block shares a poster hung by Siriana Abboud outside her pre-K classroom in mid-Manhattan, on which are displayed four noses, one of which is hooked in the manner of anti-Semitic cartoonists for centuries. In art, we can often tell ethnic identity from the bridge of your nose,” she helpfully explained to her nursery school students.

Lest anyone suspect that Abboud’s intent was innocent, and the overlap between the hook nose and Nazi cartoons accidental, on her Instagram account she describes her education mission as “centering Arab narratives the way my schooling never did.” The site is replete with collective action guides on how to “speak with your child about Palestine” and to “decolonize your teaching.”

On October 9, she wrote, “We stand with those tearing down border walls [and] we show solidarity with those still fighting to free their stolen lands.” For her efforts, last December the New York City Department of Education’s gave Abboud the Big Apple Award, the highest distinction for a city teacher, for being a “liberation-inspired educator [raising] societal expectations of the critical work of young children.”

For years, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a lecturer in Hebrew at the University of California at Santa Cruz and co-founder of the AMCHA Initiative, has been sounding the alarums about California’s Mandated Curriculum, which finally passed in 2021. The curriculum mandates classes on marginalized people and how they were oppressed by whites. Brandy Shufutinsky of the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values labels the curriculum “a Trojan horse to institutionalize anti-Semitism in California schools.”

And the proof is in the pudding. The tenth-grade curriculum history curriculum approved by the Santa Ana Unified School District terms Israel an “extremist illegal Jewish settler population” and accuses it of “ethnic cleansing.” A school district near San Francisco teaches about the “dispossession of Palestinian “lands/identity/culture through Zionist settler colonialism.”

On December 6, 70 Oakland teachers conducted a teach-in using materials produced by National Students for Justice in Palestine, one of the primary instigators of campus violence against Jews since October 7.

A Middle East curriculum prepared by Brown University, which receives a good chunk of the $8 billion showered on American universities by the Islamist monarchy of Qatar, describes Israel variously as a “Zionist enterprise in Palestine,” an “apartheid state,” a “settler colony,” and “military occupier.” More than one million students, across the US, have learned about the Mideast from the Brown curriculum.

Since 2018, New York City schools have been subject to a curriculum called the Culturally Responsive Sustaining Educational Framework, designed to provide students with a “critical lens through which they challenge inequitable systems of access, power, and privilege.” Though the curriculum says nothing about Jews or anti-Semitism, Shufutinsky of the Jewish Institute of Liberal Values explains how the universal lens of oppressed and oppressor leads inevitably to the conclusion that the “only reason Jews as a minority could be overrepresented in positions of prestige is because they have oppressed someone else. If you accept that people who achieved success only got it through ill gain, then of course it’s going to fuel Jew-hatred.”

Karen Feldman, a mid-school teacher in the New York City public school system for 25 years, with a specialty in Holocaust studies, describes the “poisoning of our educational system.” “How do you really promote diversity, equity, and inclusion when you have the leaders of equity trained on propaganda that promotes anti-Semitism and ultimately they bring it into the classrooms?”

In one of her group workshops, one student asked another, in front of two Jewish classmates, “What should we do with these dirty Jews?” Reply: “I know, we should put them in the oven.” Such Holocaust “humor” directed at Jewish students has become commonplace. A parent of a student at Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy shared with Block a torrent of memes directed at her son as his bar mitzvah approached. One showed a photo of an angry Hitler yemach shemo, with the caption, “When you see your gas bill.”

A photo posted by a member of the badminton team at one of New York’s best public high schools, Townsend Harris High School in Queens, showed the only Jewish student on the team with a Palestinian flag in place of his face. His mother had the good sense to remove him from the school.

In the New York City schools, that hatred has been directed at Jewish teachers as well as students, culminating in a November 20 “raid” on a Jewish teacher in a Queens high school who had posted her support for Israel. One student commented on social media that the teacher “is getting executed in the town square,” while the teacher remained barricaded in an office “shaken to my core by the calls to violence against me.” The only response from the chancellor of the New York City public school system was to say that the teacher was “never in direct danger” and that the claim of anti-Semitic violence in the hallways was “misinformation spread online.” Later, he added that the ringleaders of the riot had been suspended.

On November 9, both teachers and parents helped organize 700 students in a mass walkout in Bryant Park in support of Palestine. One Brooklyn school board of elected parents even distributed a handy “Day of Action Toolkit” to students replete with slogans for the walkout like “We don’t want no Zionists here!” One of the student demonstrators carried a sign reading, “Keep the world clean,” with a picture of a blue Jewish star in a trash can.

A participating teacher explained to the local CBS news outlet, “We teach our students about social justice. If we can’t act on what we are teaching... then what are we doing?” None of the teachers or students who participated in the walkout incurred any punishment.

Andrew Goldberg, a filmmaker, may have provided at least a partial model for other Jewish parents. His 11-year-old son was approached by a classmate who teased him, “Hey, I have a fun camp for you. It has great showers. Camp Auschwitz.”

When he and his wife complained to the principal of their suburban Connecticut public school, he offered nothing more than a suggestion that their son “try a new table at lunch.”

So much for the days in the half century after the Holocaust, when as much opprobrium attached to being called an anti-Semite as attaches to being labeled a racist today.

At least the Goldbergs knew what do. They enrolled their son in a private Jewish day school.

A very partial solution at best. But one that might benefit many Jewish elementary and high school students.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1009. Yonoson Rosenblum may be contacted directly at rosenblum@mishpacha.com)

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