A mock Israeli checkpoint set up during “Israeli Apartheid Week” in May 2010 at University of California, Los Angeles. (AMCHA Initiative)

California governor urged to veto bill that would mandate ‘anti-Zionist’ Ethnic Studies courses at CSU schools.

By The Algemeiner

California Governor Gavin Newsom has been called on by a broad coalition of education, civil rights and religious groups to veto a bill that would make ethnic studies courses a California State University (CSU) graduation requirement.

Referring to the field of “Critical Ethnic Studies” referenced in the AB 1460 legislation that is awaiting Newsom’s signature, the groups — in a letter to the governor organized by the AMCHA Initiative — wrote, “We are deeply concerned that without adequate safeguards, these courses could become vehicles for one-sided political advocacy and activism that will both subvert the academic mission of the university, and incite bigotry and harm against some CSU students. ”

“In particular,” the letter continued, “we fear that the anti-Zionist orientation of Critical Ethnic Studies — the version of ethnic studies likely to be taught in response to AB 1460 — coupled with the willingness of many ethnic studies faculty to bring anti-Zionist advocacy and activism into their professional spaces, will foster a toxic climate for Jewish and pro-Israel students and foment harm against them.”

“While faculty have every right to engage in political advocacy and activism outside the university, recent studies suggest that many Critical Ethnic Studies faculty are bringing their extramural support for BDS and their anti-Zionist politics into their conference halls and classrooms,” the letter further noted.

AMCHA Initiative Director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin commented, “This type of anti-Zionist political activism directly corresponds to a rise in anti-Semitic incidents on campus.”

In addition to urging a veto of the bill, the letter concluded by imploring Newsom to call on “the CSU Chancellor and its Board of Trustees to institute robust safeguards against using CSU classrooms and other academic or educational spaces for politically-motivated advocacy and activism.”