The Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest school district in America, is co-sponsoring a "professional development" workshop for K-12 teachers to "Learn about Islam and the Arab World" – and the district has apparently partnered with an anti-Israel group for lessons on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"Learning about Islam and the Arab World" is the topic of a two-part course that began Oct. 14 and will continue Oct. 21. It is being led by LAUSD teachers Richard Jessel and Rosa Melendez, according to a posting on the website of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, or FORUSA.
One person, who is Christian, attended the Oct. 14 class and told The Israel Group: "The workshop was nothing more than lectures proclaiming the virtues of Islam, while following the same party lines: All negative information about Islam was labeled as lies, mistranslations, ignorance, prejudice and hoaxes; speakers stated that violent jihad is non-doctrinal, bulls–t; Christians and Jews were always better off living under Muslim rule and anyone who says otherwise is lying."
According to the agenda for Oct. 21, some of the classes include "Palestine/Israel; Palestine Today: No Way to Treat a Child," "The Changing Arab World: Overview of Politics, Society, and Refugees" and "Refugees from the Arab World."
The Israel Group, which first discovered the class offerings and posted the information on its website, warned: "FORUSA is connected with and promotes the boycott movement against Israel (BDS), and aligns itself with Black Lives Matter, which holds decidedly anti-Israel platforms, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR was found by a Muslim Brotherhood-related organization to promote Hamas financially and politically."
Jeff Cooper, a part-time adjunct professor of history at Santa Monica College, is scheduled to teach the "Palestine/Israel" session this Saturday.
The Israel Group Founder and Executive Director Jack Saltzberg notes that one student complained about his "radical" views on the website RateMyProfessors.com, warning: "He has really far out radical left-wing political views. He hates the USA."
Even a student who encouraged others to "stick it out in this class" said of Cooper: "He rants, he gets heated, and he tells you everything you once knew about history is wrong."
Cooper offers a 40-page handout titled "Palestine, Israel, and the Arab-Israel Conflict: A Primer" (Part 1 and Part 2), which Saltzberg warns, "is nuanced anti-Israel propaganda from beginning to end, with thousands of inaccuracies, distortions, factual lies, and insidious misrepresentations."
Saltzberg listed the following examples:
- Cooper never once referred to indigenous Jews as "Palestinian Jews" when, during the British Mandate, Jews were called "Palestinian Jews" and Palestinians were referred to as "Palestinian Arabs."
- One of the sections in the handout is titled "The Creation of Palestinian Refugees and Ethnic Cleaning."
- Another section with the heading "The June 1967 War" states: "From 1948-1967, Israel's military and political leadership was looking for a way to conquer and occupy the West Bank and the Gaza Strip."
- Cooper's handout also discusses the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against Israel, or BDS: "Israel regards all forms of Palestinian opposition to the occupation as threats to its national security, including non-violent methods like calling for boycotts, divestment and sanctions."
- The handout only uses the word "terrorism" three times. In one case, it talks about the Palestine Liberation Organization "renouncing" terrorism. In another reference, Cooper says, "This is why military occupations [Israel] are the highest form of terrorism."
Another session is led by a Palestinian American, Rola Karam, and is titled, "Palestine Today: No Way to Treat a Child." According to The Israel Group, Karam has taught the course for the LA Unified School District since 2009.
Saltzberg also notes that Karam has been a conference presenter on the "Nakba" (or "catastrophe" of Israel's founding in 1948) for Sabeel, a Palestinian Christian liberation theology group in Jerusalem. The Israel Group writes: "Sabeel seeks to replace all of Israel with a Palestinian Arab state and specializes in working to turn Christians against Jews and Israel, and is among the ADL's Top 10 anti-Israel Groups: 'the worst of the worst.'"
At least 200 K-12 teachers in the LA Unified School District have attended the "Arab, Islamic World" workshops since 2005, according to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.
"Neither the Workshop web page on FORLA nor the Registration Form listed any of the pro-Palestinian courses sessions," according to Saltzberg. "Those were only listed in the Class Agenda given at the Workshop."
Previously, one presenter in the workshops has been Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of CAIR. As WND has reported, CAIR is an Islamic organization founded in Washington, D.C., by the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas.
CAIR was designated by the Department of Justice as an unindicted co-conspirator in a plot to fund Hamas that was tried in Texas. It also was designated by the Gulf Arab state United Arab Emirates as a terrorist organization. CAIR has sued a co-author of a WND Books exposé, "Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That's Conspiring to Islamize America," which documented the group's ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. The trial is expected to take place this fall.
More than a dozen CAIR leaders have been charged or convicted of terrorism-related crimes.
As for the LA workshop, Saltzberg said he has three questions concerning the school district's course offerings:
- Why is a workshop about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict being presented to LAUSD teachers entirely by an anti-Israel political activist group?
- Why was the educational content not vetted?
- Why were no pro-Israel historians invited to present?