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U. California Riverside Professor Under Fire for “Zionism Toxified Our Schools”

A UC Riverside professor tweeted on January 12 that “Zionism politically toxified our schools.”

The tweet in question came regarding a debate on Twitter over the #DefendEthnicStudies. Groups that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement like Jewish Voice for Peace had planned to use the hashtag calling for the California Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum to include Arab American Studies; pro-Israel groups such as StandWithUs and the American Jewish Committee countered by using the hashtag to argue that anti-Israel groups are pressuring the state to insert their bias into the curriculum.

Dylan Rodríguez, a Media and Cultural Studies professor at UC Riverside and the 2020-21 president of the American Studies Association, weighed in on the matter by tweeting, “Most California public education administrators don’t understand how Zionism politically toxified our schools and curricula. It prevents us from teaching historical material about entire populations. This must not continue.”

Jewish groups denounced Rodríguez’s tweet – “Jewish self-determination is a right enshrined in international law, not a toxic subject to be avoided,” Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Los Angeles Deputy Director Ariella Lowenstein said in a statement to the Journal.

“ADL does not oppose Arab American Studies. What we oppose is the teaching of bigotry against Jews or Israel under any banner or subject heading.” Lowenstein added.

Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in a phone interview that the Ethnic Studies issue is part of a broader campaign to “demonize Zionism” and tell Jews that they have to leave behind their Zionism if they want to engage in social justice issues.

“What this professor is putting forward, at least he’s doing it honestly,” Cooper continued. “It’s not enough to have Arab-Americans in whatever comes out at the end. God forbid it should include American Jews and their love for Israel! That’s about as honest of a statement of where things are heading.”

The Stop Antisemitism.org watchdog tweeted, “Imagine being THAT obsessed with hating on Jews that you think an entire state’s educational curriculum is set up in their favor!”

When asked to respond to Stop Antisemitism.org’s tweet, Rodríguez responded: “I reject the premises enabling their weaponization of the terms ‘anti-Semitism’ and ‘hate.’ Ironically, their tweet trolls exemplify the very toxicity I referenced in my original post.”

The university declined to comment on the matter.