Click Here or copy and paste the below message by 2:00 pm on Tuesday 10/26:
Note: this letter is a guide, please adapt it and personalize so that board members read and reflect on it:
- Include who you are and what is your connection or basis for understanding (i.e. I’m Jewish .. or I’m an educator .. or I’m a graduate / parent of a student of a California public school… or I’m a Jewish Voice for Peace supporter) etc.
- Include your main concern (i.e. I oppose the false charges of antisemitism being made about the SD Unified School District Ethnic Studies curriculum, … the ADL doesn’t speak for me, .. …I’m concerned about the conflation of antisemitism with criticism of Israel and support for Palestinian rights, etc)
Subject: Public Comment on 10/23/21 Board Agenda Item F.3. Resolution in the Matter of Addressing Antisemitism and Affirming the Value of Jewish Students, Staff, and Families
Dear Board Members Bazzo, Beiser, McQuary, Barrera, Whitehurst-Payne, and Patterson,
I firmly believe that education is not a neutral force in young people’s lives, but an active agent of change that has a profound effect on students’ worldviews and moral compasses. This resolution cares not for students but reflects the political interests and perspectives of a narrow constituency, unnecessarily centering and affirming the ADL as a sole arbiter of anti-Semitism and Jewish perspective in SDUSD. Rather, it is the needs of the students and faculty of SDUSD that should be prioritized in cultivating safe learning environments.
The resolution refers to a partnership between SDUSD and the ADL and Simon Weisenthal Center, organizations that have documented histories of using their positions of institutional power to designate organizations representing marginalized and racialized communities, and even other elements of the Jewish community, as anti-Semitic and hate groups. This pattern of advancing such false, biased narratives, as a process of delegitimizing other groups’ concerns, stifling their voices, and invalidating their perspectives, is profoundly concerning. Any sort of partnership with the ADL and SWC should be very alarming and seen as a direct suppression of BIPOC communities, manifesting in this case through the silencing of Palestine advocacy.
These same organizations have been lobbying at statewide and local district levels against Ethnic Studies, pushing back against critical race theory and a true, authentic ethnic studies curriculum that has anti-colonial, anti-racist, and liberatory principles. How can groups like the ADL and SWC be advised to offer anti-racist education, when they’ve been pushing back on popular demands from communities, students, and educators of color for a liberated ethnic studies curriculum?
We firmly oppose any education on antisemitism from organizations that themselves have a history of bigotry and racism.
This resolution is proposing the adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism, which has been rejected by a broad range of Jewish organizations and is widely debated within the Jewish community and Jewish studies field for its appendix which expressly suggests that any criticism of Israel amounts to anti-Semitism. In practice, this definition effectively criminalizes and stigmatizes the Palestinian freedom struggle, treating any opposition to Israeli policies and practices as antisemitic. SDUSD can and should make a clear statement against anti-Semitism without relying on the IHRA definition that is used to silence Palestinian students and their families in our schools. As community members we wholeheartedly reject the IHRA definition of Ant-Semitism.