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Holiday Greetings + Ethnic Studies Blames Israel for Everything and Doesn't Even Try to Hide It
Coming to a classroom near you.
From the Department of Nothing to See Here
Well, I had some ideas for nice holiday things to share, but then ethnic studies.
Recently I shared that XITO, which works with several districts in Washington state, is leading an institute this year on settler colonialism, connecting Palestine with US/Mexico border issues with the goal of bringing more teachable content into public school classrooms. XITO is also involved with a newly formed network called the Coalition for Liberated Ethnic Studies, or CLES, an extension of the group that drafted the original California ethnic studies model curriculum, which was sent back to the drawing board in part due to allegations of anti-Jewish bias.
Liberated ethnic studies is cementing a relationship with Palestinian activism and explicitly isolating Zionism.
According to an article in a magazine called Convergence:
“The seven-year legal battle in Arizona that forced Chicanx scholars to prove the legitimacy of Chicanx Studies gives us a road map for the current attacks on Ethnic Studies and, specifically, the teaching of Palestine,” says Anita Fernández, co-founder and director of the Xicanx Institute for Teaching and Organizing (XITO). “We are in solidarity with Arab American Studies, as others were with us in 2010, as we all push forward for our collective liberation.”
CLES is clear about its goals. From its website:
As a coalition, we are committed to:
Creating a national grassroots organizing network with a sustainable infrastructure that practices consensus-based decision making and strategizes by prioritizing the struggles and victories for Ethnic Studies in local communities.
Establishing an intergenerational model of organizing for Ethnic Studies that centers youth participation, activism, and leadership.
Developing and supporting a national platform and a strategy for the communication and dissemination of a unified message related to Ethnic Studies, including a solidarity network and organizing strategy for rapid response to dehumanizing actions and pushback from zionism and right-wing zealots. [Sic, boldface added]
Developing, supporting, and promoting local, state, and national legislation and policy for liberatory and authentic Ethnic Studies.
Maintaining a clearinghouse for research and information on Ethnic Studies, Pre-K through college.
Again, from Convergence:
Arab American students are among the most invisible students of color in standard US curriculum, so the inclusion of Arab American Studies in Ethnic Studies is critical. Given the devastating impact of Israeli colonialism on the lives of people across the Arab region, Palestine is a central issue for Arab students; studying Israeli settler colonialism in comparison to US settler colonialism is illuminating for all students, and at the heart of the discipline of Ethnic Studies. But even the suggestion that Palestine might be mentioned is enough to bring forth well-funded organized attacks from pro-Israeli lobby groups. California is a recent case in point.
The blame on Israel for “the devastating impact of colonialism on the lives of people across the Arab region” is a pretty clear trope: Jews embody the current social evil (i.e., colonialism) and destroy healthy society like the cancer that they are. Make no mention of the failed attempts at democracy, snuffed-out revolutions, disastrous economies, rampant Jew-hatred, vaginal mutilation, beheadings, stonings, and hangings that are the hallmarks of this magical segment of the globe. Carry on.
The subtle anti-Semitism that is spreading through liberated ethnic studies is really not being addressed. Rather, those individuals who exercise their First Amendment rights to call this out are branded with the scarlet Z — Zionist, while the “right” Jews who parrot ideas about Israel being a white supremacist colonial land-raper, are absolutely welcome. They come in handy.
Tracy Castro-Gill, the director of 501(c)(4) Washington Ethnic Studies Now, who has a questionable past and has said questionable things about Jews, is climbing the ranks of ethnic studies leadership in Washington. Her organization recently won a LEADER grant from the College Spark Foundation for $100,000 to help advance an ethnic studies endorsement and to partner with Enumclaw, Northshore, and Shoreline school districts as well as UW and Western Washington University. College Spark worked with the Professional Educators Standards Board (PESB) on the application process. (One member of PESB happens to be on WAESN’s executive team.)
Now a professor of American ethnic studies at UW, Castro-Gill will be leading a workshop next month for the Northwest Teaching for Social Justice conference. Her topic? “Jewishness and Ethnic Studies — A Discussion of Intersectional Jewish Identities.”
That’s right, Tracy Castro-Gill is leading a panel for educators about Jews. This is a continuation of her “work” understanding how Jewishness can function within ethnic studies by employing the right Jewish voices.
Here is the program description:
Ongoing attacks on ethnic studies led by Zionists and white Jews in response to California’s proposed Palestinian Studies model curriculum have reached Washington State. A barrier for those trying to mitigate the harm of these attacks is the lack of public knowledge of both the purpose of ethnic studies and the history and current understanding of intersectional Jewish identities. Washington Ethnic Studies Now Executive Director, Tracy Castro-Gill, recently partnered with retired Seattle Public Schools (SPS) librarian and educator, Jeff Treistman, to create a series of blog posts to educate the public about both. Jeff and Tracy will be joined on this panel by SPS educator, Gabi Sanchez-Stern, who identifies as a Jew of Color. The panelists will dig deeper into the topics of the blog posts and respond to questions from participants.
In case you need to catch up, here is part one of my analysis of her blog post:
It should go without saying that Palestinian or Arab studies is not the problem. It’s the framing of these studies as “the right side of history” under the guise of critical thinking. It’s the ease with which educator-activists drape themselves in the warm blanket of historical anti-Semitic tropes they refuse to acknowledge. It’s the impulse to define Judaism, deny Jews a voice, and then assassinate Jewish identity when Jews and their allies speak up. It’s not really about Israel at all, but the need for a supervillain in a new mythology. And while I risk sounding like I’m writing this with a tin-foil hat on my head next to a peg board full of red strings, this political advocacy movement pretending to be education is way ahead of us. The monster is already in the house.
Attached photo by Bartosz Kwitkowski/Unsplash
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Some nice posts from the ‘Gram.
Honey cake bake with Chabad of Capitol Hill:
JFS Rosh Hashanah gift baskets created and delivered to Jews in need by volunteers:
Kiddos at JDS picking apples for Rosh Hashanah:
Send me or tag me in your pics and I will share them!
This week’s parasha is Nitzavim.
Candlelighting in Seattle is at 6:46 p.m.
Shoutout to the JCRC Board and Council. Thank you all for your hard work over the past two years. Looking forward to a productive 5783. Wishing you all a year of good health and happiness. Shana Tova —Bill Mowat, JCRC Chair
My family is gathering this weekend to have a memorial for my mom who we lost this spring. My mom would have loved the way we planned this. Thank you. —PM
Thank you to Emily Alhadeff for single handedly keeping Jewish journalism alive in Seattle, as both a reporter and a teacher! —Louis Keene
A sweet year to you Emily and to all your followers. —Jim Mirel
Shoutout to Emily Alhadeff for devoting her life energy towards putting together the wonderful and always elucidating The Cholent Newsletter. —MB
Todah Rabbah to Rabbi Ben Hassan for learning Talmud with me on his recent trip to Israel. —David Benkof
Wishing a Shana Tova to our beautiful Seattle family: Ty, Emily, Bina, Saadia, Sivan, and Razi. Love, Mom and Dad
Thank you to my wife Rebecca for bringing the Yhei Ratzones to New York for Rosh Hashanah 2022 and starting a new tradition for our family. —Jason Okrent
Shoutout for Jeff Album, who has just released his first single. Check it out: https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/jeffalbum/if-and-when —Clifford Cohen
Best wishes for the New Year to all our Seattle friends, from Levis and Rochelle Kochin
Shoutout to all the Friends of The Cholent for supporting this project and keeping my hands on the keyboard every week. Thank you! May you have a sweet new year and be inscribed in the Book of Life. —Emily