Dear Governor Gavin Newsom:
Any discussion of the Arab-Israeli conflict – if included in a course taught by a public School District in California – should present the perspectives of both sides of the conflict, otherwise education is degraded into indoctrination, and – as the infamous 2019 “Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum” proved (that you correctly vetoed) – it slides into anti-Semitism under the mantra of anti-Zionism.
I warmly endorse the letter titled “An Open Letter from Jewish Scholars to Governor Newsom About Ethnic Studies”, signed and endorsed by many Jewish scholars, dated September 21, 2023, that, most probably, you already received. (I include a copy of that letter at the end.)
Public schools should be inclusive. Teach both perspectives of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Palestinian and the Jewish perspective, side-by-side, and no one will have any cause to be afraid of or feel “under attack”!
Or, leave the Arab-Israeli conflict out altogether from K12 curricula. Personally, I am not a fan of teaching the Arab-Israeli conflict in K12 schools: public schools already struggle to teach the basic tools and subjects that children need to succeed in life (English, Math, the History of the United States and Civics come to mind). The Arab-Israeli conflict is not one of them.
However, if some school districts insist, then the Jewish perspective of the Arab-Israeli conflict should be included and taught too.
The Jewish perspective is presented in my book “Ethnic Studies in K12 schools: The Jewish module” (October 2023 edition). It was written explicitly for students in high-school taking a mandatory “Ethnic Studies” course. The book is available to teachers and students for free download at:
To maximize accessibility, the book is also available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. I include with this letter a complimentary copy of the paperback edition.
Jaime Kardontchik, PhD (Physics)
Silicon Valley, California
Note: The above letter was mailed by the author to the governor of California.
What follows below is a copy of the letter titled “An Open Letter from Jewish Scholars to Governor Newsom About Ethnic Studies”. This letter, and the hundreds of endorsements by academics and scholars, was organized by the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values”, JILV (the author is not a member nor associate of the JILV):
“An Open Letter from Jewish Scholars to Governor Newsom About Ethnic Studies”
September 21, 2023
Dear Governor Newsom,
In September 2023 a group purporting to represent the Jewish academic world wrote a Letter, “Sign on: Jewish scholars & educators on ethnic studies,” addressed to you. We, the undersigned, are writing a corrective to that inflammatory Letter, which inaccurately frames criticism of a discriminatory version of Ethnic Studies as an attempt to “derail the entire field of ethnic studies.”
To be clear, we welcome curricula that allow the diverse student body to see themselves and classmates reflected in their education. That “Sign On” Letter, however, is dangerously misleading: A significant majority of American Jews support a Jewish state. As Jewish scholars ourselves, central to our ethno-religious identity is Zionism, the right to self-determination in our ancient, indigenous homeland. Language reveals history: Jews are from Judea. However, the Letter presents “Israeli colonialism” as a settled fact, thereby declaring that Jewish people colonized their own homeland. Erasing our indigeneity is anti-Zionism, a contemporary expression of the world’s oldest hatred.
Further, the Letter suggests that covering Jewish literature and state-mandated Holocaust education is sufficient, but including those topics does not ensure that the program abides by state requirements for Ethnic Studies. Brooks Allen, Executive Director, California Board of Education (August 23, 2023) reveals, “some vendors are offering materials that may not meet the requirements,” particularly the guardrail ensuring that curricula “not reflect or promote, directly or indirectly, any bias, bigotry, or discrimination against any person or group of persons on the basis of any category protected by Education Code Section 220.”
Finally, this Letter unsurprisingly exemplifies the bias and bigotry in the radicalized Ethnic Studies curriculum. For instance, the accusation that “groups such StandWithUs, Amcha Initiative, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and the Anti-Defamation League have sought to derail the entire scholarly field of ethnic studies” upholds a false binary that one either supports the radical version of Ethnic Studies or opposes Ethnic Studies altogether. And the attempt to disparage unaligned viewpoints as “right-wing” (as the letter does on three occasions) does not reveal a good faith effort to include diverse perspectives. Those signatories of the “Sign On” Letter ironically do not seek, and are even antagonistic to, inclusion.
We believe that curricula should represent all communities in California’s wonderfully diverse student body, and we support a highly inclusive Ethnic Studies program that respects the humanity of every student.
Note: A list of hundreds of scholars endorsing the letter follows. The complete list of names and affiliation of the endorsers can be found at:
You can also read the letter that triggered all the above, titled “Sign on: Jewish scholars & educators on ethnic studies”, and sent to governor Newsom, of California, and its anti-Zionist rhetoric (under the mantle of “Critical Race Theory” and “Teach-Palestine-only” attitude) in the following website:
A final point:
Personally, I do not pass judgement about the intrinsic value of some aspects of the “Critical Race Theory” philosophy. This can be discussed at the Universities, in the same way that other philosophies and philosophers are, from “The Republic” by Plato to “The Capital” by Marx.
However, the proponents of the “Critical Race Theory” should first clean up their house and get rid of the antisemitic elements in their midst: their negative obsession with the Jews and Israel, boycotts of Israel and their opposition to the right of the Jewish people to self-determination and the right of the Jewish State to exist in the land of Israel.