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OPINION

‘Ethnic Studies’ and Other Lies About Jews and America

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Kathy Willens

What do the “liberatory” ethnic studies curriculum infiltrated into Los Angeles County public schools and the 1619 Project have in common? The former is anti-Jewish and anti-American, the latter anti-American and anti-Jewish.

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Both exemplify superstitions central to woke progressivism, the appealingly labeled but anti-democratic movement to transform America from a liberal republic based on individual rights into an authoritarian-left collective. In the process, it would render Jews a marginalized, vulnerable minority.

Ethnic studies curricula like that in L.A. first distort, then erase Jewish history in the United States and the Middle East. Indictments of America as fundamentally racist from its founding to the present, like the New York Times’ 1619 Project, first distort, then deny this country’s exceptional record from 1776 of expanding liberty, creativity and prosperity.

These ideological compulsions entwine like DNA strands. That’s because they curdled in the same petri dish, one using a neo-Marxist growth medium to produce hatred of individualism and capitalism. A little history clarifies:

In 1975, the United Nations General Assembly passed a Soviet-inspired, Arab League adopted resolution equating Zionism—the national liberation movement of the Jewish people—with racism. Two years earlier U.S.-backed Israel, the Zionist project in being, had defeated Moscow’s Egyptian and Syrian clients in the Yom Kippur War. “Zionism-is-racism” was the Soviet-Arab psychological warfare counterattack.  

Charges of “racist!” against Israel and its supporters became the post-modern, secular-fundamentalist equivalent of the medieval “Christ-killer!” The newer libel incited terrorism, the older one massacres.

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The United States pushed de jure repeal of “Zionism-is-racism” through the U.N. in 1991. But the fabrication survives de facto. It still spreads like a toxic waste spill in many Arab and Islamic quarters, hothouses of the academic left, on the fellow-traveling neo-Nazi right and now Los Angeles.

Concerned Jewish Parents and Teachers of LA are suing the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Consortium over the latter’s teaching materials that allege, among other things, Jews aren’t indigenous to the Middle East and Zionism seeks “expansion of the Jewish state into historic Palestine by any means necessary.” Laugh, cry or scream?

There was no “historic Palestine.” History’s only geographic-political entity called “Palestine” was the League of Nations/United Nations Palestine Mandate, 1922 – 1948, held by Great Britain. Before establishment of the mandate and again prior to the U.N.’s 1947 partition plan, Palestinian Arab representatives insisted they were part of "Arab Syria."

London, charged with assisting the reestablishment of the Jewish national home on ancestral soil, lopped off three-fourths of the Mandate to create the Arab state of Transjordan. That’s today’s Jordan with its Palestinian Arab majority.

“By any means necessary?” After Israel conquered the West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem in a successful war of self-defense in 1967, it offered to return nearly all those territories in exchange for peace. The Palestine Liberation Organization/Arab League response? No negotiations, no recognition, no peace. In 2000, 2001 and 2008, Palestinian leaders rejected U.S. and Israeli “two-state solutions” including eastern Jerusalem.

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The “liberatory” curriculum also claims Israel is a “white, settler state.” Well, most modern countries were settled by migrants and conquerors from elsewhere—but in the case of the Jews of Israel, their ancestors showed up 3,500 years ago, and weren’t particularly “white.” Arabs came much later.

Meanwhile, ethnic studies cultists deny American Jews minority status. Supposedly their “white privilege” obliterates a long struggle against discrimination.

As “Zionism-is-racism” smears Judaism and inverts Jewish history, the 1619 Project does the same to America. It mis-locates this country’s founding in the arrival of the first African slaves in 1619 rather than in the Declaration of Independence’s revolutionary insistence that “all men are created equal.”

For President Lincoln, the slavery-ending Civil War amounted to the nation’s “new birth of freedom.” But for the 1619 Project, America remains “systemically” racist. Never mind the end of Jim Crow laws in the 1950s and ’60s and a subsequent cultural shift such that interracial marriage, for example, is today unremarkable.

Leading historians including James McPherson and Gordon Wood have found 1619 “not only ahistorical,” but “actually anti-historical.” No matter, in woke America it won a Pulitzer Prize and likely is taught in schools near you.

 Why must the world’s one, tiny Jewish state and its leading, large democratic capitalist nation be delegitimized as racist? Because, however imperfect—all human organizations are thereby flawed—they exemplify the constructive creativity of free individuals. And individuals free with God-given rights are something heirs of Karl Marx, today’s social engineers of the secular fundamentalist left, like fascist dictators of the right before them, cannot abide.  

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Eric Rozenman is communications consultant at the Washington, D.C.-based Jewish Policy Center and author of Jews Make the Best Demons: “Palestine” and the Jewish Question. Any opinions expressed above are solely his own.

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