A proposed, state-wide, mandatory Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum in California is open for public comment only until Thursday, January 21. The current draft of the curriculum celebrates figures who have promoted anti-Semitism (including leaders of the Third World Liberation Front and the anti-Jewish leaders they admire); it uses racial distinctions to divide people into those who are considered white (and therefore privileged) and those who are non-white (and therefore oppressed); and in the case of Jews, it combines the two, pitting “Jews of color” against Jews who are tarred with “conditional whiteness” and its attendant “racial privilege.”

“White supremacists continue to racialize Jews as non-white,” the curriculum’s “Fact Sheet on Jewish American Diversity” acknowledges. But “many Jews with light skin identify with the idea of white-presenting,” it reads. “Light-skinned Jews…experience white privilege,” while “Jews of color like all communities of color face systemic racism.” In other words, the same kind of Jews who, in living memory, were forced into ovens for being non-white, are now identified as white –– or at a minimum, as having “conditional whiteness.” This disqualifies most Jews from the solidarity offered to other minority groups.

Nazi curricula taught that in order to usurp white privilege, Jews pretended to be white, hiding in plain sight. But surely, a modern-day ethnic studies curriculum wouldn’t perpetuate the same idea?

“Starting with immigrants, and common with actors” (actors?), the proposed California curriculum’s section on Jews teaches, American Jews have historically hidden their Jewishness by changing their names. Authors of this curriculum want to make sure California’s schoolchildren know that “this practice of name-changing continues to the present day.” Putting an even finer point on it, passing as white (what would have been called “posing” as white in an earlier era) means that Jews “[change] their position on the racial hierarchy… gaining racial privilege” (Emphasis added).

Jews are the only group in California’s proposed curriculum for whom the term “privilege” is used. 

There ought to be no discussion about Jews and privilege that doesn’t begin by talking about the historically enacted and repeated genocidal ideology that revolves around Jews and privilege. For an ethnic studies curriculum to go traipsing through that discourse without a single mention of its ugly and bloody history is not a lesson about anti-Semitism. It is a repetition of it. By itself, that should effectuate a vote of no confidence in the entire franchise.

Critical race theory is not the historical equivalent of Nazism, but it doesn’t have to be: the question is whether an American education will help students widen their sense of “us,” or once again, teach students to harden their sense of “them.”

Full story at Jewish Journal.

The deadline for public comment on the proposed California Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum is Thursday, January 21. Public comments should be directed to [email protected]