Sunday, May 12, 2024

Anti Semitism in Berkeley writ long before Jews are beaten in the streets?

Accompanied by 2 vice principals, Berkeley public school students march to Jewish Community Center and chant slogans at preschoolers inside

Just as Hamas targeted young children, even babies, for unthinkable torture and death, pro-Hamas demonstrators in Berkeley targeted a Jewish Community Center (NOT an Israeli facility) with preschool students in class as they chanted slogans through a bullhorn and marched. Even worse, the students who walked out were reportedly accompanied by two vice principals from the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School as they intimidated the innocent toddlers, guilty solely of being Jewish.

Emilie Raguso reports in the Berkeley Scanner:

The Scanner got multiple reports about a walkout march from King middle school that stopped to protest outside the Berkeley branch of the Jewish Community Center of the East Bay.

The protest group was made up of an estimated 60 or more middle school students who were chanting with a bullhorn and accompanied by school administrators, parents said.

When the group stopped for several minutes to protest outside the JCC, which is about a half-mile from the King campus, JCC security went outside to investigate and Berkeley police were also called. (snip)

One BUSD parent said the protest reports were concerning in part because the district had promised parents on Thursday, by email, that no school staff would accompany the student march.

In the email, school leadership said students might have a walkout Friday, and that they might march to UC Berkeley during the event.

"Site and district staff will monitor students at the school site, but we will not have the capacity to walk with students to UC Berkeley or monitor their activity while on the university campus where there will be other activities happening," King Principal Michael Tison Yee told parents in the email Thursday. (snip)"Although this was not a district sanctioned event, our administration team made a decision to accompany the students to monitor for safety," BUSD spokeswoman Trish Mcdermott told The Scanner by email in response to an inquiry about Friday's events.

Sorry, Ms. Mcdermott: sending two vice principals to accompany the tyros as they terrorized tots does symbolically sanction the activity. The “monitor for safety” excuse holds no water because walking out of school and marching up busy city streets in an un-permitted march of children is inherently unsafe. Stopping the march would be the safe option, perhaps warning students that they will be regarded as truant if they skip out of the taxpayer-funded education they are being provided.

Somehow, I doubt that outside adults were not involved in organizing and directing the teen and pre-teen students. Where is the inquiry into their likely role in encouraging truancy? 

Casting an even deeper shadow of Jew-hatred on the event, it was preceded by antisemitic graffiti at the school:

The Berkeley Unified School District said it is investigating the graffiti report, in which someone scrawled, "[Name redacted] hates Jews. We stand with [name redacted]" next to a Jewish star on a classroom whiteboard.

A photograph of that message that has been shared among parents and other community members was also provided to The Berkeley Scanner along with concerns about the message.

The superintendent of Berkeley’s public schools, however, doesn’t think Jew hatred at her schools is a big deal:

Friday's reports come at a difficult time for the Berkeley Unified School District, whose superintendent, Enikia Ford Morthel, told federal lawmakers this week that "antisemitism is not pervasive" in the district.

Ford Morthel said there had been nine formal antisemitism complaints to BUSD since Oct. 7, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Question: would nine complaints of anti-black racism be similarly regarded with equanimity?

Incidentally, Superintendant Ford Morthel describes herself as "an urban educator and community activist, dedicated to creating public education experiences that are revolutionary, relevant and responsive for students and families."

Others are far from sanguine over the safety and emotional wellbeing of Jewish children entrusted to Ford Morthel’s tender mercies:

EdSource reported that the Office of Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education plans to investigate allegations that BUSD "failed to respond properly to rising incidents of antisemitism in its schools."

That includes a complaint by two Jewish civil rights organizations "urging an investigation into the 'virulent wave of antisemitism' aimed at Israeli and Jewish students" in Berkeley Unified, EdSource reported.

In fact, Ford Morthel hired consultants, the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Consortium, who created an ethnic studies curriculum that is horrifying. Via EdSource:

The group pitches to school districts in California an alternative to the state’s ethnic studies model curriculum framework with a focus on dismantling capitalism, systems of racism, and Zionism, which it equates to colonialism. The group’s leaders include ethnic studies professors from California State University and the University of California. (snip)

Ford Morthel testified Wednesday that the district has not purchased a Liberated Ethnic Studies curriculum. Rather, she said, the district takes pride that teachers and community partners have written the curriculum. Teachers created lessons on Israel and Palestine because of “a lot of curiosity, a lot of questions, and quite frankly, a lot of confusion from many of our students wanting to know what was going on.” (snip)

Early in the two-hour hearing, the chair of the subcommittee, Rep. Aaron Bean, R-Fla., forced Ford Morthel and the other two superintendents on the panel, New York City schools Chancellor David Banks and Montgomery County school board President Karla Silvestre, to give one-word answers to a series of complicated questions. One was whether the phrase “From the river to the sea Palestine will be free” is antisemitic.

Yes or no, Bean asked?

“If it is calling for the elimination of the Jewish people in Israel,” Ford Morthel responded.  “And I will also say that I recognize that it does have different meanings to different members of our community.”

“I’m going to go ‘yes.’ I’ll put you down, yes,” Bean said.

Kiley used that answer against her during his questioning. He referred to a slide in the teacher-prepared curriculum that cited the “From the river to the sea” phrase as a call for freedom and peace and paired it with a “supportive quote” by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan, soon after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas in Israel. Congress censured Tlaib on a 224-188 Republican-led vote, with members claiming it implied support for armed resistance to abolish the state of Israel. 

Many people, including most Jews, also view it that way. Others, Tlaib included, say it evokes future coexistence where everyone can live in freedom in Palestine.  

“Do you think that’s an appropriate thing to have on a slide for students?” Kiley asked Ford Morthel.

“So,” she replied, “we definitely believe that it’s important to expose our students to a diversity of ideas and perspectives. And if it was presented as a perspective, I do think it’s appropriate.”

Watch as Ford Morthel responds to questions from California Republican Congressman Kevin Kiley on the curriculum in which she takes pride:

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