Lara Kiswani, whose organization has been tapped to "support pathway implementation" and "provide cultural content" for Arabic language classes by the San Francisco Unified School District, believes that "bringing down Israel will really benefit everyone in the world."
The San Francisco Unified School District is embroiled in a controversy that demonstrates the pervasiveness of politicization in Arabic instruction. According to Jweekly.com, the school board has approved a resolution for "K-12 Arabic and Vietnamese language and culture classes beginning in the 2017-18 school year." In order to create "culturally appropriate professional development opportunities for school faculty," the district plans to work with the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), a fiercely anti-Israel, pro-BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) local organization whose website blames global "repression" on "U.S. imperialism and Zionism."
Lara Kiswani, AROC's executive director and cofounder of the UC Davis chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, is notorious for having declared at a 2014 UC Berkeley BDS panel discussion, "Bringing down Israel will really benefit everyone in the world" and, to a Jewish graduate student's concerns about anti-Semitism, responding, "As long as you continue to be on that side [of Zionism] I'm going to continue to hate you."
Opposition from Jewish community leaders and others has prompted the school board to issue an apology and to reconsider "whether to retain or drop AROC." As president Emily Murase put it, "Clearly we want to make sure it [the Arabic language and teaching program] does not contain political agendas." The board's decision will determine whether or not teaching Arabic entails indoctrinating children with the political biases of that troubled region.
Cinnamon Stillwell is the West Coast representative for Campus Watch.