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YOUR ACTION NEEDED! LAUSD & Orange County Anti-Israel Workshop

The Orange County Department of Education and the OC Human Relations Council co-sponsored an in-service training seminar for K-12 teachers called “Learning about Islam and the Arab World”, on October 25, 2017. Two of the workshops are unequivocally anti-Israel. The seminar itself is produced by an anti-Israel organization called Fellowship of Reconciliation, which supports BDS. Participating teachers received salary points. The Los Angeles Unified School District also sponsored a similar seminar.

Our only focus is on two anti-Israel workshops within the larger seminar. We do not oppose the overall seminar on Islam and the Arab world. We encourage teachers to be sensitive to their student's diverse classroom cultures.

The workshops in Los Angeles were given by Jeffrey Cooper and Rola Karam. Mahmood Ibrahim gave a presentation in Orange County.  The organization who produced the seminar both counties co-sponsored is the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

There are numerous problems with both workshops, and the organization who produced them.


Jeffrey Cooper's presentation in Los Angeles was problematic on several levels. His “primer” on “Palestine, Israel and the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” was the only reading material offered. It is completely one-sided, presenting a biased and ideologically anti-Israel narrative. This assigned primer is filled with factual errors and omissions. It downplays and rationalizes Palestinian terrorism, ignores the dispossession of nearly one million Jews from Arab countries (who now comprise a majority of Israeli Jews) while constantly referring to Israeli Jews as “European settlers.” It speaks of the “long-lived Zionist and Israeli desire for ethnic supremacy and exclusivity,” calls for the wholesale “right of return” of the 1948 refugees and all their descendants, and refers to Israel as an “apartheid” state. As a teaching tool, it fails even the most basic academic standards as it offers no citations for its claims, nor a bibliography.

The other presentation presented to teachers in the LAUSD “Palestine Today: No Way to Treat a Child,” workshop, given by Rola Karam, features similar issues. The title of this workshop is the same as an international propaganda campaign called No Way to Treat a Child,” a joint project of Defense for Children International - Palestine and American Friends Service Committee.” Both NGOs support the BDS movement against Israel. The NGO Monitor has several articles on their activities and funding.

The campaign accuses Israel of falsely imprisoning Palestinian children, without mentioning that Palestinian youth are routinely indoctrinated to commit violence against Israelis, soldiers and civilians alike. 

The campaign also fails to criticize various Palestinian factions (Hamas, Fatah and others) for using children as young as 13 as suicide bombers, couriers, fighters, and on the “front line” as rock and Molotov cocktail throwers. When not used as soldiers, many Palestinian children are used as human shields by these groups. (For further information, see our information booklet “No Way to Treat a Child: The Plight of Palestinian Child Soldiers.”

Karam is a featured speaker at Sabeel events. Sabeel is an unabashedly pro-BDS organization, and, according to the ADL, has at times demonstrated in the past  “efforts to demonize Israel” and leveled “charges of deicide against Jews.          

The presentation in Orange County was equally distressing. Mahmood Ibrahim is problematic as a speaker and presenter. He has said at one point at a USC conference that “AIPAC and Congress are sometimes synonymous.” He also openly endorses a boycott of Israel, and has lectured at other openly anti-Israel events.

Moreover, the event Orange County and the Fellowship of Reconciliation advertised does not hint at any kind of workshop about Israel — teachers who signed up for this kind of continuing education were not given the opportunity to evaluate for themselves the kind of information they might receive.

As for the Fellowship of Reconciliation, it works with the anti-Israel “Boycott Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) movement. FOR was the parent body of the vehemently anti-Zionist Interfaith Peace Builders, which sends “3 - 4 delegations to Israel/Palestine every year” to expose participants to “everyday war and violence of the occupation” (saying nothing about terrorism). The delegations meet a range of anti-Zionist NGOs including Coalition of Women for Peace, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, Mossawa, Badil and others.


YOUR URGENT ACTION NEEDED NOW:

Contact the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education here and the Orange County Department of Education here. You can find samples letters to send to board members in each document as well. Please be courteous and respectful interacting with staff.

 

 

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