Monday, February 5, 2024








        It was easy this month to understand why the University of California’s long-planned adoption of a high school ethnic studies course requirement for admission is stalled and may never materialize.


        That’s partly because of what’s happened with the state’s separate but not yet official mandate that public school districts teach a one-semester ethnic studies curriculum as a requirement for graduation. Where they exist, many such classes have become hotbeds of anti-Israel lies and half-truths that border on outright promotion of Jew hatred.


        This has occurred in some districts that jumped the gun on ethnic studies, hiring members of the Critical Ethnic Studies Association (CESA) to write programs before they’ve become a requirement. Some of those hired were among authors of two versions of the state ethnic studies curriculum that were both rejected by state education officials as anti-white, anti-Western and anti-Semitic, with rewrites ordered both times.


        So far, there are no precise statewide standards for what must be taught, letting districts and classroom teachers design their own programs. But CESA, to which many UC and California State University ethnic studies faculty members belong, specifies classes should “analyze, confront and intellectually dismantle… institutionalized forms of racism, apartheid, settler colonialism and empire in and beyond the United States.”


        So when CESA members write curricula, classroom emphasis is often not on building pride and self-esteem in all children, as envisioned by legislators who enabled an ethnic studies course, but instead stresses resentments, divisions and fault-finding.


        That’s no surprise considering that some UC and Cal State academic departments use state-funded equipment and official websites to promote hatred of ethnic groups they despise and, more than any other country, the state of Israel. Within the last month, 405 non-ethnic studies faculty at UC signed a letter calling on their system’s Board of Regents to stop professors from using state-funded resources for promoting personal points of view.


        They pointed to the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Department at UC Santa Cruz as an egregious example of using its website and classrooms to promote anti-Israel activity that all UC campus chancellors have unanimously condemned as “a direct and serious threat to the academic freedom of students and faculty.” And they noted that state-supported anti-Israel activity has stepped up since the Oct. 7 Hamas kidnap/massacre of more than 1,500 Israelis. That included encouraging students to participate in a “Shut it down for Palestine” protest rally. All this runs counter to system-wide UC policies proscribing use of public funds and facilities to push private views.


        The faculty letter noted similarly illegal misuse of websites and facilities at UC Merced and UC San Diego, among others.


        But any distortions there have been mild compared to some of the high school classroom materials now in use. This academic malpractice is nowhere more egregious than at Woodside High School and Menlo Atherton High School, both components of the Redwood City-based Sequoia Union High School District.


        As first reported in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, materials there say “Israel controls the water and electricity of Gaza.” In fact, Israel prior to Oct. 7 controlled less than 20 percent of those utilities in Gaza. There are many more anti-Israel half-truths, as when the Arabic word “Nakba,” or catastrophe, is defined as describing “when more than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled…in the 1948 war that followed the formation of the state of Israel.” The materials don’t mention that war began when five Arab armies (from Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Syria) invaded Israel the moment it declared independence under terms of a United Nations resolution.


    Via radio broadcasts, they asked Arab residents to leave so they could operate more freely. The materials do not mention that Israel at the time told Palestinian Arabs to stay put, warning that if they left, they would not be allowed to return. Nor do the materials mention that simultaneously, more than 800,000 longtime Jewish residents were forcibly expropriated and expelled by Arab countries from north Africa to Iraq and Syria, and then immediately taken in by Israel as full citizens.


        All this comprises a solid argument for delaying any statewide ethnic studies requirement until firm guidelines demanding factuality and prevention of falsehoods and propaganda are put in place.



    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this. Investigating the funding sources behind CESA might be illuminating. I’m curious to know if foreign actors are involved in developing and disseminating this destructive curriculum.