A San Francisco-based Arabic community group could be excluded from helping to create Arabic-language curriculum it championed to the school district earlier this year because of alleged discriminatory comments the organization and its leader made about Jews.J-Weekly amplified AROC's hate:
Last May, the Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution for the San Francisco Unified School District to explore implementing Arabic- and Vietnamese-language pathways programs for kindergarten through 12th-grade students, beginning in the 2017-18 school year.
The resolution also called for the district to work with the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, among other community groups, to develop “culturally appropriate professional development opportunities” for teachers at certain schools. Incorporating community input is standard practice for the SFUSD when creating new curriculum.
But language used by AROC to allegedly “push a radical Anti-Israel and Anti-Zionist agenda in San Francisco,” according to a June 17 letter from the Jewish Community Relations Council to school district leaders, has prompted local Jewish community leaders to urge the SFUSD to eliminate the group from the resolution.
“We fully support implementing language pathways in Vietnamese and Arabic. [The opposition] is of this group that has been named in the resolution [and] made these really ugly and divisive statements,” said Jeremy Russell, a spokesman for the Jewish council.
District officials have not confirmed whether the Arab group will remain listed as a resource in the resolution, and the Board of Education in the coming weeks intends to collectively respond to community concerns regarding the resolution.
“We are reviewing that,” Board President Emily Murase said of continuing to work with AROC. “A lot of information came to us after the resolution was passed. We’re in the process of evaluating partners. We want to do it in a very deliberate, thoughtful way.”
In the letter from the Jewish council to Superintendent Richard Carranza and Murase, examples of such discriminatory comments include a Tweet by @AROCBayArea on Dec. 15 saying: “Help us kick Zionism out of the Bay Area. Donate today.”
Other comments highlighted in the letter were purportedly made by Lara Kiswani, the group’s executive director, at a Nov. 12 forum on how organized labor can help Palestine: “Bringing down Israel really will benefit everyone in the world, and everyone in society”; “As long as you continue to be on that side, I’m going to continue to hate you.”
“Any group that espouses hatred really should not be a partner for the school district,” Russell said.
The Arabic group considers the Jewish council’s attempt to remove the group from the resolution to be little more than an intimidation tactic.
“We see this recent development consistent with the way that JCRC operates on a regular basis where they ignore the impact their actions have on children,” Kiswani wrote in an email to the San Francisco Examiner. “They are literally willing to take educational opportunities away from children in order to feed their need to defend the state of Israel.”
The organization also helped lead a Block the Boat campaign in 2014, which twice sought to prevent the Oakland offloading of a cargo ship partially owned by an Israeli company, succeeding the second time. Referring to that campaign, the AROC website proclaimed that “business with the racist, exclusionary, Zionist state of Israel, which works alongside local and federal law enforcement to repress our communities, will not go unchallenged.”
Last December, AROC tweeted the message “Help us kick Zionism out of the Bay Area.”
The JCRC is as liberal an organization as you can find. It does not take a stand on the Iranian nuclear deal. It does not mention Israel on its homepage, and its activism for Israel seems limited to being against BDS. It participates in multifaith Iftar dinners. In no way, shape or form can you call this organization anti-Arab or anti-Muslim. It explicitly supports the idea of Arabic instruction in San Francisco schools.
The AROC, on the other hand, is highly political and anti-Israel. Its response to the JCRC letter is shrill, and it reveals that AROC fully intended to use this curriculum to poison the minds of children against Israel:
Who is JCRC? They are a well-financed group that furthers the interests of the apartheid state of Israel. Their objective is to challenge Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions work in the San Francisco Bay Area. Wherever they see an organization successfully supporting the Palestinian struggle for liberation, they attack.This screed by AROC proves the JCRC is correct and that AROC is a most unsuitable partner for the San Francisco Board of Education.
Now, they are attacking both AROC and the opportunity for children in San Francisco to learn Arabic language and culture.
JCRC is attempting to convince the San Francisco Board of Education to revote on a resolution that the board passed unanimously on May 26, listing AROC and the Vietnamese Youth Development Center as community partners who championed the campaign to implement Arabic and Vietnamese language pathways in SFUSD. This initiative, born of an inspiring community effort, would expand the opportunity of Arabs and Vietnamese to have their languages and cultures better represented in the schools they attend.
What does JCRC really want? They want to discredit AROC because of our impactful work in support of Palestinian rights, and they want control of the Arabic pathway process so they can ensure there are no cultural elements to the curriculum that could “threaten” their conservative agenda.
Don’t let JCRC undermine Arab culture in our city to advance their harmful agenda.
If AROC only cared about Arabic language study, they would happily withdraw their name from the resolution, which would ensure Arabic language would be taught without controversy. But their claim that the JCRC is attempting to "ensure there are no cultural elements to the curriculum that could 'threaten' their conservative agenda" shows that this is indeed AROC's aim - to add their idea of "culture" to the public school system.
And to AROC, "culture" is to attack Israel and support terrorism.
Their tweets routinely refer to Israel as practicing "apartheid" and "genocide." They were active in supporting Palestinian terrorist Rasmeah Odeh.
Their idea of "culture" is to hijack Valentine's Day and turn it into a radical anti-Israel event called "Revolution is Love."
Just imagine what they plan to do in public schools under the guise of "culture."
AROC damns itself with its own words and actions.