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LA school-board candidate readies for runoff, minus union endorsement

Days after antisemitic posts came to light, candidate Kahllid Al-Alim was dropped by the UTLA teachers union.

Outlined state of California on a school chalkboard. Credit: Ezume Images/Shutterstock.
Outlined state of California on a school chalkboard. Credit: Ezume Images/Shutterstock.

Kahllid Al-Alim’s campaign website begins with a large white rectangle box and text stating: “Community organizer, leader, south L.A. dad. Kahllid for Los Angeles Unified School District school board district one.” Then comes a smiling headshot and a button urging readers to “join” the campaign, which leads to a Google form.

Then comes a statement. “Friends, I want to apologize for my posts about the Farrakhan book. I was wrong. I have connected with educators and community members and have since learned about the issues. I fully rescind that post. It has no place in our schools,” he begins. “I also apologize for my likes on social media of graphic content. It was inappropriate. I will never do that again.”

Al-Alim claims that he has “spent my life fighting against antisemitism, anti-Arab hate, Islamophobia and all forms of oppression.” He has also promoted “the equality of all people,” he adds. “There is a very long history of Jewish and Black people backing each other and working in solidarity for justice. I want to continue that important work.”

At a Feb. 27 campaign event, however, Al-Alim appeared to suggest the opposite.

“I am out here right now, basically you can just say, doing damage control,” he said. “Some may find the book offensive, but again, it is my perspective. It is something that I believe that I have every right to put forward and just you know without any apprehension let everybody know that I am not antisemitic and that I will continue with the campaign. And I’m not ashamed of anything.”

Joanna Mendelson, senior vice president of community engagement at the Jewish Federation Los Angeles, told JNS that “our children deserve leaders who uplift the voices of all of Los Angeles’ students.”

“We must boldly call out hate and not stand behind those who elevate antisemitic rhetoric and conspiracy theories,” it added.

‘Mandatory reading’

On Oct. 18, 2022, Al-Alim responded to a social-media post by one “Midwest Mike,” who shared a photo of the cover of a Nation of Islam book—volume two of The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews: How Jews Gained Control of the Black American Economy—and wrote, “You don’t understand the Kanye interview because you never read this.”

The rapper Kanye West—who goes by “Ye”—had sat for an Oct. 6, 2022 interview with conservative political commentator Tucker Carlson, at the time on his eponymous Fox News show. During an interview with the show “Drink Champs,” which was posted and removed on Oct. 16, 2022, he doubled down on antisemitic statements. Then, on Oct. 17, he again pushed Jew-hatred during an interview with Chris Cuomo on NewsNation.

According to a screenshot of the since-deleted tweet, Al-Alim wrote of the Nation of Islam book, which was written by known antisemite and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan: “Should be mandatory reading in community schools.”

Al-Alim’s tweet, in addition to other antisemitic and pornographic posts that he “liked” on social media, came to light recently. “Trafficking in anti-Jewish slander is a poor way for a person to demonstrate a credible interest in serving L.A.’s students and parents,” wrote Jeffrey Abrams, Los Angeles regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, on Feb. 23.

On March 4, United Teachers Los Angeles, a union representing the district for which Al-Alim is running, pulled its endorsement of the then-front runner for the district’s school board seat. District 1—the nation’s second-largest school district—includes nearly 430,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade and it covers 710 square miles, including Los Angeles, per its website.

“UTLA condemns all forms of oppression, including racism, sexism, antisemitism, anti-blackness, Islamophobia, xenophobia and homophobia,” UTLA stated.

Alissa Bernstein, assistant director of the American Jewish Committee, Los Angeles, told JNS that AJC commends the union “for rescinding their endorsement of Al-Alim.”

“We must remain unwavering in the fight against antisemitism, particularly in our educational system,” she said.

The day after UTLA revoked its endorsement, Al-Alim released the statement that is currently on his campaign site homepage.

Amidst the controversy, his clear victory fell from grace, and on Super Tuesday, Al-Alim came in second after Sherlett Hendy Newbill, a teacher whom the Los Angeles Democratic Party and the Los Angeles Times endorsed.

Newbill finished with 23.3% of the vote and Al-Alim received 21.6%. Since neither got more than 50% of the vote, a runoff election is expected in the coming months.

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