UC prof: Zionism has 'politically toxified our schools'

A professor at the University of California-Riverside tweeted that Zionism has “politically toxified our schools and curricula.”

Zionism is a movement for the re-establishment and development of a Jewish state.

University of California-Riverside Professor Dylan Rodríguez sent a series of tweets on the alleged role that Zionism plays at higher education institutions in America. 

Rodríguez tweeted on January 12 that “most California public education administrators don’t understand how Zionism politically toxified our schools and curricula.” Rodriguez’s Twitter account is his personal account but is linked from his official bio on the university’s website.

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According to the World Zionist Organization, “Zionism aims at establishing for the Jewish people a legally assured home in Eretz Yisrael.”

Rodriguez went on to say that Zionism “prevents us from teaching historical material about entire populations. This must not continue.”

According to Rodríguez, the tweet was part of the “Save Arab American Studies twitter storm.” He encouraged others to join in the social media movement, tweeting, “Retweet and join with #DefendEthnicStudies. I support a California Ethnic Studies curriculum that is rigorous and inclusive of vital fields like AAS.” 

Supporters of the hashtag, like Rodríguez, called for the California Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum to include Arab American Studies, while those on the opposing side, many of whom represented pro-Israel groups, argued that anti-Israel groups were pushing to insert their bias into the curriculum. 

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Rodríguez also claimed that “A number of Zionist organizations want to convince us that Arab American Studies is ‘anti-semitic.’” He said, “This is not only intellectually insulting but is also an inherently racist position.”

Aside from being a professor in the Department of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California-Riverside, Rodríguez also serves as the president of the American Studies Association. When Campus Reform reached out to Rodríguez to provide him the opportunity to comment on his tweet, he “cordially” referred this reporter to “two related articles from Jewish Currents, a periodical that proudly reflects the investigative and journalistic tradition of the activist, anti-apartheid Jewish Left diaspora.” 

The first article asserts that, “Pro-Israel voices have attacked not only the inclusion of BDS in the curriculum but also the California Department of Education (CDE)’s a general vision for ethnic studies.”

The second article states that, “Last year, the California Department of Education (CDE) planned to provide materials for Arab American studies education as part of a new Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) for K-12 schools across the state.  But after the first draft of the curriculum came under heavy scrutiny from Israel-advocacy groups for its Palestine-related content, the Arab American studies content will be heavily reduced—and all content related to Palestine removed.”

Rodríguez told Campus Reform that his tweet “has caused such virulent ad hominem reaction from some.”

StopAntisemitism.org publicly reacted to the professor’s comments by tweeting, “Imagine being THAT obsessed with hating on Jews that you think an entire state’s educational curriculum is set up in their favor!”

Campus Reform reached out to the University of California-Riverside but did not receive a response in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @opheliejacobson