(June 9, 2020 / JNS) Club Z, a national Zionist youth movement, sent a report on May 29 about rising anti-Semitism calling for government bodies to present and pass a series of anti-discrimination laws known as the Jewish Students Bill of Rights.
Drafted by Club Z teens from across the country, the Jewish Students Bill of Rights was included in a report sent to the California Department of Education, U.S. Department of Education and the California Legislative Jewish Caucus.
The report cites biased textbooks, funding from Gulf Nations and curricula proposals as some of the main drivers of anti-Semitism in K-12 public schools. Club Z teens and other K-12 students face environments where “Jewish students are openly ridiculed by their classmates and teachers,” according to the report.
A Club Z survey of Jewish teenage students found that half of the students do not wear items that easily identify them as Jews in public, according to the report. These same teens are most likely to encounter anti-Semitism on social media and in their schools.
“Jewish students aren’t just being targeted on college campuses, but in high school, middle school and even elementary school,” said Boris Bukchin, an 11th-grade student at Gunn High School in Palo Alto, Calif. “It’s hard for a teenager to push back when teachers spread hateful ideas about Jewish history and Israel. Passing a bill of rights is the first step in a wider series of actions that we have to take to protect and empower Jewish students.”
Club Z has chapters across the U.S. including two in California. The state proposed an Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum last year that integrates anti-Semitism and is now being pushed at the school district level. Club Z’s teenage students condemned the draft for excluding Jews as an ethnic minority, promoting Jewish stereotypes and supporting campaigns to end Israel’s existence, including the BDS movement.
Modeled on similar activist’s bill of rights like the New Jersey anti-bullying bill of rights, which passed as a law in 2011, the Jewish Students Bill of Rights preamble says it is necessary “to guarantee an education without fear of harassment, intimidation or violence on the basis of our identity.” The document enumerates the rights to free expression, a fair education, a safe learning environment, a comprehensive definition of anti-Semitism and fair protections.
“Today, anti-Semitism is rampant on campuses across the country, and Jewish students are targeted, discriminated against and in some cases, physically assaulted because of who they are and what they believe. It is more important now than ever, for schools to adopt the Jewish Students Bill of Rights,” said Club Z founder and executive director Masha Merkulova.
“We urge state and federal elected officials to listen to our youth who want to go to school to learn, not to face bigotry,” she added. “It is critical that Jewish students feel safe to return to schools when they reopen.”
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