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StandWithUs Calls on Seattle Elementary School to Investigate Lesson Glorifying Anti-Israel Protests

Updated: Feb 28

Lesson included video of children chanting “from the river to the sea”

By Aaron Bandler | Jewish Journal | February 16, 2024




StandWithUs announced on Wednesday that they have sent a letter to a school district north of Seattle to investigate a lesson for second graders that glorified anti-Israel protests.

The letter, dated Jan. 17, expressed “deep concern” over a lesson at Syre Elementary School in Shoreline, Wash. The lesson, the letter claimed, “included misinformation, glorification of anti-Israel rhetoric, and antisemitic bias under the guise of a social studies class about protest.” The lesson, presented on Dec. 5, featured a video that showed, among other things, “other indigenous people” involved in Palestinian protests; StandWithUs argued that this seemed to imply that Jews aren’t indigenous to Israel. The video also showed “a segment cheering the eviction of an Israeli diplomat from New Zealand based solely on his Israeli identity” and lauded pro-Palestinian protesters “who illegally disrupted and blocked a Thanksgiving Day parade.”


But what StandWithUs found “most appalling” was that the video showed children doing the “from the river to the sea” chant. This video was described as young people protesting for “what is right.” After the video was shown, students were directed to make “a poster in support of Palestine.”


In StandWithUs’s view, the lesson promoted “bias and bigotry” by delegitimizing Israel’s right to exist — and Israel’s existence is important to the Jewish identity — and “prominently featuring” the “from the river to the sea” chant.” The chant is “a call for the ethnic cleansing of Jews” in Israel, meaning that the lesson taught students a “genocidal narrative.”


The letter contended that the lesson violated the Shoreline Unified Schools District’s policies barring bias and bigotry in the classroom, and urged both the school and district investigate the matter and then take “appropriate action.” Additionally, StandWithUs called on the district to provide “school-wide education” on “Jewish identity and antisemitism.”


“The exponential increase in anti-Israel and antisemitic rhetoric since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre and kidnapping in Israel is clearly evident on college campuses and in the community,” StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism Director Carly Gammill said. “Situations like this demonstrate that we are dealing with a far more insidious problem that has crept into the educational system at much lower levels, with teachers indoctrinating young minds with anti-Israel propaganda and misinformation that incites violence and undermines and denies 3,000 years of Jewish history in the land of Israel.”


“Situations like this demonstrate that we are dealing with a far more insidious problem that has crept into the educational system at much lower levels.” – Carly Gammill, SWU

The district said in a statement to the Journal, “While the District has a general policy of not commenting on particular personnel matters, we take allegations of discrimination seriously, including thoroughly investigating and taking appropriate steps to ensure that the District is safe and welcoming for students, staff, and community members. The lesson materials that appear to have been used are not part of the district-approved ‘Social Studies Alive!’ or ‘Storypath’ curricula. From our initial review, curriculum materials and grade-level standards do not suggest that this would be a lesson typically taught in a second grade social studies lesson.”


Gammill said in a statement to the Journal, “The District claims to take allegations of discrimination seriously and asserts this lesson was not within the district-approved curriculum. There appears to be ample reason, then, for the district to thoroughly investigate this matter, to provide the parents of any students subjected to discriminatory, false, and inappropriate indoctrination with information about the remedial measures it intends to take. The District must also ensure that the staff and students within its schools receive proper education about Jewish identity and antisemitic attacks against that identity.”


Read full article here.

 

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