Some 3,000 Californians call to veto 'antisemitic' ethnic studies bill

A petition calling on California Governor Gavin Newsom to veto a bill adding ethnic studies to high school curriculums was signed by 3,000 Californians.

A student exits a bus as he arrives at Venice High School in Los Angeles, California (photo credit: JONATHAN ALCORN/REUTERS)
A student exits a bus as he arrives at Venice High School in Los Angeles, California
(photo credit: JONATHAN ALCORN/REUTERS)

Some 3,000 Californians signed a petition on Monday calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to veto a bill adding ethnic studies to high school curriculums.

The bill, titled AB 101, cleared both houses of the California State Legislature earlier in September. AB 101 is set to become a requirement for graduation in California.

The liberal California Legislative Jewish Caucus had criticized the original model of the curriculum, introduced in 2019, saying it carried an "anti-Jewish bias."

Following the backlash received by Californian Jews, a revised version of the bill which included two lessons on Jews in California was approved by the state's Board of Education in March.

AB 101 was drafted by The Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Institute (LESMC) who claims Israel partakes in "settler colonialism" and "apartheid." The site also encourages teachers and students to "fight against Zionist backlash."

Around 2,500 BDS protesters are seen flocking to the Port of Oakland, California, to stop a cargo ship operated by the Israeli-based ZIM company from unloading in protest of Operation Protective Edge, on August 16. 2014. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)Around 2,500 BDS protesters are seen flocking to the Port of Oakland, California, to stop a cargo ship operated by the Israeli-based ZIM company from unloading in protest of Operation Protective Edge, on August 16. 2014. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

"The Liberated curriculum includes overtly anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist lessons and explicitly promotes student engagement in actions to harm Israel, especially BDS," the petitioners wrote.

"The Jewish community is simply not capable of challenging such an antisemitic curriculum in every one of the hundreds of school districts where it will likely be considered."

"It is a moral outrage to expect Jewish parents to fight against antisemitism being taught to their children in a state-mandated course," they added.

The petition opposing the bill was organized by AMCHA Initiative, an NPO dedicated to combating antisemitism at colleges and universities in the US.

Following the California State Legislature's vote to advance AB 101, the bill now sits at Governor Newsom's desk, who has until October 10 to either approve or veto the bill.