(October 24, 2021 / JNS) California Gov. Gavin Newsom just announced the formation in his state, and allocation of millions of dollars, towards the Governor’s Council on Holocaust and Genocide Education.
This seems commendable on its face, but it’s not that simple. If Newsom wants to be on the right side of history, he has to pick a side. He can’t simultaneously advocate for both Holocaust education and anti-Semitic ethnic-studies curricula. Nor should he advocate for lessons that bundle the Shoah with other genocides.
Newsom should learn from the challenges faced by his colleague, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who had to contend with the adoption of new Holocaust-education standards that “universalize” the Holocaust. Other genocides can and should be taught, but without moral equivalence that belittles the magnitude of the Nazis’ war on the Jews.
As the last survivors grow fewer and more far between, Holocaust education is more important than ever. However, it cannot be placed on the altar of critical race theory, only to become a method in which to push a subversive political agenda.
As is the case with Holocaust education, mandating ethnic studies seems commendable on its face, until one delves into some of the material being pushed by prominent teachers’ unions and academics. This is akin to the “liberated” curriculum that uses the term “apartheid” to describe the one and only Jewish state, which is an accusation easily refuted by walking down any street in Israel and observing that all citizens, be they Jews or Muslim Arabs or Christians, are in no way subject to any separation. They are part of one society.
This is not just an insult to the South Africans that suffered under the apartheid regime; it is unadulterated anti-Semitism.
The reason for the slur is to single out Israel above all other countries on earth for discrimination. According to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” is inherently anti-Semitic. This double standard placed on Israel, which would not apply to any other nation, is also a manifestation of the world’s oldest hatred.
One cannot teach about the perils of the Shoah while giving voice to the latest trends in anti-Semitism. While the Nazis focused on the physical annihilation of the Jews, today’s anti-Semites across the political spectrum seek to annihilate the Jewish state, which they view as the collective Jew.
If Newsom truly wants to honor the memory of the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis, he needs his council to focus exclusively on the Holocaust. He must give credence to academics and scholars from across the board and ensure that their intentions are pure.
If he wants to educate our children about the perils of anti-Semitism, he must eradicate institutional anti-Semitism in all teaching materials across the board.
Dr. Laurie Cardoza-Moore, president of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, has been reviewing educational content across the United States for a decade and advised on the recently approved Holocaust Education Standards in Florida. In addition, she is a Tennessee state textbook and instructional materials quality commissioner.
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