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California Jewish groups, on guard against antisemitism, welcome state’s support for ethnic studies classes that avoid ‘bigotry’

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — California Jewish groups applauded a letter from the state’s education board urging that high school courses meeting an ethnic studies mandate avoid “bias, bigotry, or discrimination against any person or group of persons.”

The letter comes at the start of the school year, and nearly two years after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation making California the first state to require all public high school students to complete a semester-long course in ethnic studies. California Jewish groups aired concerns that curriculums they feel are anti-Israel or antisemitic will be used at school districts across the state.

The goal of the ethnic studies requirement is to increase knowledge of the state’s ethnic minorities and their histories. The graduation requirement in the topic is set to take full effect in 2029, and schools must begin offering such courses in 2025. Many schools have already begun offering the courses.

The effort has been mired in controversy since a draft of a model curriculum was published in 2019 that, Jewish groups said, excluded their experiences and included anti-Israel sections. Newsom came out against that draft, and revisions of the model curriculum removed the anti-Israel content and added lessons on the experiences of Jews in California.

But school districts are still free to determine their own ethnic studies curricula. According to J, The Jewish News of Northern California, advocates of the original draft, who blamed “rightwing pressure” for the revisions, are encouraging districts to adopt curricula that better reflect the first draft.

A letter from dozens of Jewish leaders across the state to Newsom and other state officials, sent in late June, claimed that antisemitic and anti-Israel content was being taught as schools began to introduce the new courses.

“These challenges have led our community organizations to invest thousands of hours towards ensuring ethnic studies courses will not promote bias, bigotry, or discrimination against Jewish and Israeli students,” reads the letter, which was spearheaded by the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California, or JPAC, and co-signed by local Jewish federations and branches of the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee.

Wednesday’s letter, signed by Brooks Allen, the executive director of the California State Board of Education, appears to come in response to those concerns.

It reiterated three requirements for ethnic studies courses, mandating that they “be appropriate for use” with students coming from a range of backgrounds; “not reflect or promote” bias or discrimination; and not promote religious doctrine.

In addition, the letter cautioned, the education board learned that “some vendors are offering materials that may not meet the requirements of [the legislation], particularly the second requirement above,” regarding avoiding bias and discrimination. The letter called that requirement “an important guardrail highlighted when the bill was signed.”

Jewish groups, including JPAC, thanked Newsom and the education board for the letter. JPAC called the governor “a consistent ally to the Jewish community” and added that the letter constituted a “major step in the right direction.”

“There is still a lot of work ahead to implement robust ethnic studies courses across California’s schools that are also free from antisemitism and anti-Zionism,” JPAC’s statement said. “We know the Governor will continue to work with us in this effort.”


The post California Jewish groups, on guard against antisemitism, welcome state’s support for ethnic studies classes that avoid ‘bigotry’ appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Will Hostage-Taking Journalist Abdallah Aljamal Be Added to CPJ ‘Casualty’ List?

The Al Jazeera Media Network logo is seen on its headquarters building in Doha, Qatar, June 8, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon

One day after Israeli security forces rescued four Israeli hostages from their Gazan captivity, both the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security agency) confirmed that three of the hostages had been held captive in the family home of Abdallah Aljamal.

Aljamal, who was killed during the raid that freed the hostages, had previously served as a spokesman for the Hamas-run Gaza Labor Ministry and, as a journalist, had contributed to Al Jazeera, and served as a correspondent for The Palestine Chronicle.

His last article was published by the Chronicle one day before the Israeli rescue operation.

Abdullah Al-Jamal was not a “freelance contributor” for the Palestine Chronicle. As the outlet itself has repeatedly stated, he was in fact its “correspondent in Gaza.”

They clearly changed the bio to try and avoid legal repercussions pic.twitter.com/i6cu22ZXTE

— Eitan Fischberger (@EFischberger) June 10, 2024

With Abdallah Aljamal’s death as part of the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, it begs the question whether he will be added to the running list of “journalist casualties in the Israel-Gaza war” compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Since the start of the war, the CPJ’s list of journalist casualties has been used by a variety of news outlets, activists, pundits, and politicians to highlight the seemingly disproportionate number of Gaza-based journalists killed during Israel’s counter-terrorism campaign, and to question whether Israel is purposefully targeting reporters and other media workers.

However, as noted earlier by HonestReporting, a significant number of the journalists who appear on the CPJ’s list were in some way affiliated with Hamas and other anti-Israel terror organizations.

As of this writing (June 10, 2024), close to 50% of the 103 Palestinian journalists listed by the CPJ either worked for news outlets affiliated with terror organizations, or were active members in these organizations themselves.

While he was working as a so-called “journalist,” Abdallah Aljamal also held hostages captive for Hamas.

Shockingly, his death qualifies him for the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (@pressfreedom) list of media workers killed in the conflict. https://t.co/kfaLDXA7FM

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) June 9, 2024

If Abdallah Aljamal is added to the CPJ’s list, this will only highlight the problematic nature of the list by including terrorists and kidnappers among the ranks of killed Palestinian media workers, and will serve to further debunk the libel that Israel is targeting journalists in order to stifle their reporting capabilities.

If Aljamal is not included on the CPJ’s list of killed Gaza-based journalists, it will ultimately need to be asked what separates him from the likes of Hamza Al Dahdouh, Mustafa Thuraya, and Mohammad Jarghoun — all three of whom are accused of being active members of terrorist organizations and who appear on the list.

In either case, the mere possibility that Abdallah Aljamal, a Hamas member who helped hold three Israeli civilians hostage, will be added to the CPJ’s list of killed journalists is a cold reminder of the interaction between terrorism and civilian life in Gaza, the influence that Hamas has over the media in Gaza, and the untrustworthiness of outlets that turn a blind eye to these salient factors.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

The post Will Hostage-Taking Journalist Abdallah Aljamal Be Added to CPJ ‘Casualty’ List? first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Missile Barrage Hits Northern Israel, Emergency Services Report

Firefighters respond to a fire near a rocket attack from Lebanon, amid ongoing cross-border hostilities between Hezbollah and Israeli forces, near Kiryat Shmona, northern Israel, June 14, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Israeli emergency services reported dealing with a string of fires in northern Israel on Friday after dozens of missiles were fired from southern Lebanon into the area around the border town of Kiryat Shemona.

The military said that warning sirens had sounded in northern Israel and emergency services said teams were searching the area, where they reported there was property damage but no casualties.

Television footage on Friday showed damaged buildings and cars as well as brush fires in several locations caused by strikes or falling debris amid heatwave conditions.

The Israeli military has exchanged regular fire with Hezbollah forces across the border in southern Lebanon ever since the start of the war in Gaza in October.

Neither side has appeared to wish a wider conflict, but there has been growing worry that the steady intensification of strikes could push the situation out of control with the risk of a wider conflict in a region that has already seen direct exchanges between Israel and Iran.

The latest salvo came after an Israeli strike killed a senior commander from the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist group in southern Lebanon on Tuesday, drawing the heaviest bombardment of northern Israel since the start of the war in October last year.

Tens of thousands of residents have been evacuated from their homes on both sides of the border, creating growing pressure to resolve the stand-off, but diplomatic efforts have so far proved fruitless.

On Friday, the Israeli military said fighter jets and anti-aircraft systems had intercepted 11 of the 16 drones launched by Hezbollah against Israel in the past 72 hours.

“The Israeli Air Force is continuing to operate at all times to thwart terrorist activities and protect Israel‘s skies from any threat,” it said in a statement.

The post Missile Barrage Hits Northern Israel, Emergency Services Report first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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G7 Warns Iran Over Continuing Nuclear Program Escalation

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Italian President Sergio Mattarella, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and European Council President Charles Michel pose for a family photo as they arrive to attend a dinner at Swabian Castle in Brindisi, Italy, June 13, 2024. Photo: Italian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

The Group of Seven leaders warned Iran on Friday against advancing its nuclear enrichment program and said they would be ready to enforce new measures if Tehran were to transfer ballistic missiles to Russia, according to a draft communique.

“We urge Tehran to cease and reverse nuclear escalations, and stop the continuing uranium enrichment activities that have no credible civilian justifications,” the statement seen by Reuters said.

Iran has rapidly installed extra uranium-enriching centrifuges at its Fordow site and begun setting up others, a UN nuclear watchdog report said on Thursday.

Iran is now enriching uranium to up to 60 percent purity, close to the 90 percent of weapons grade, and has enough material enriched to that level, if enriched further, for three nuclear weapons, according to an IAEA yardstick.

Iran must engage in serious dialogue and provide convincing assurances that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful, in full cooperation and compliance with the IAEA’s monitoring and verification mechanism, including the Board of Governors’ resolution of 5 June,” the G7 said.

Iran says its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.

The leaders also warned Iran about concluding a deal to send ballistic missiles to Russia that would help it in its war against Ukraine, saying they were prepared to respond with significant measures if it were to happen.

“We call on Iran to stop assisting Russia’s war in Ukraine and not to transfer ballistic missiles and related technology, as this would represent a substantive material escalation and a direct threat to European security,” they said.

The post G7 Warns Iran Over Continuing Nuclear Program Escalation first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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