EXCLUSIVE: LA Unified School District recruits anti-Israel political group to indoctrinate teachers


By Jack Saltzberg | 10:30 pm, October 16th, 2017

LOS ANGELES – The Israel Group has learned that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) co-sponsored a workshop “Learning about Islam and the Arab World” last weekend—with a second scheduled for this Saturday—at the United Teachers Los Angeles union building, with an anti-Israel, pro-BDS, pro-Palestinian organization: The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FORUSA).

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.

According to one Workshop participant, who spoke with The Israel Group on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, “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, bullshit; Christians and Jews were always better off living under Muslim rule and anyone who says otherwise is lying.” The participant, who is Christian, added: “I can only wait to hear what they teach about Israel at this weekend’s Workshop?”

This coming Saturday’s Workshop (Oct. 21, 2017, 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM) continues with sections entitled: Palestine/Israel; Palestine Today: No Way to Treat a Child (under the “bullying” theme), The Changing Arab World: Overview of Politics, Society, and Refugees; and Refugees from the Arab World.”

The session Palestine/Israel is taught by Jeff Cooper, a part-time adjunct professor of history at Santa Monica College. According to one student’s review about Cooper on ratemyprofessor: “He has really far out radical left-wing political views. He hates the USA.” Cooper’s 40-page handout (first section / second section) Palestine, Israel, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Primer, is based on this publication by Joel Beinin and Lisa Hajjar, of the Middle East Research and Information Project. (Cooper’s handout was with approved edits.) Without knowing the factual history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—as many of the teachers don’t—this information will appear as neutral and authoritative. Unfortunately, it is nuanced anti-Israel propaganda from beginning to end, with thousands of inaccuracies, distortions, factual lies, and insidious misrepresentations. To name just a few:

  • Not once in the entire paper were indigenous Jews referred to as “Palestinian Jews” when, in fact, during the British Mandate, Jews were referred to as “Palestinian Jews” and Palestinians were referred to as “Palestinian Arabs.”

  • A section is titled The Creation of Palestinian Refugees and Ethnic Cleaning.

  • Under the heading, The June 1967 War, it 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.”

  • The document lays out a foundation basis for the BDS movement: “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 word “terrorism” was only used three times. Once with the PLO “renouncing” it, and once with an added quote by Cooper: “This is why military occupations [meaning Israel] are the highest form of terrorism. [Emphasis the document.]

The session, Palestine Today: No Way to Treat a Child, is led by Rola Karam, who has presented this course for the LAUSD since at least 2009. Karam, a Palestinian-American, has, among other things, been a conference presenter on the “Nakba” for Sabeel.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.”

This “Arab, Islamic World” Workshop by FORUSA has taught more than 200 K-12 LAUSD teachers since at least 2005, as reported by the anti-Israel 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. Those were only listed in the Class Agenda given at the Workshop.

In past LAUSD Workshops, Hussam Ayloush, the Executive Director of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter CAIR, has been a presenter. This is the same Ayloush who said on CNN that “the United States was partly responsible for terrorism carried out by Islamic terrorist groups like ISIS.”

The Workshops are held under the leadership of Rosa Melendez and Richard Jessel, both LAUSD teachers.

[NOTE:In partnership with the Orange County Department of Education, this cookie cutter educational Workshop was given in Orange County on 10/4/17, with the second part about the Israel-Palestinian conflict scheduled on 10/25/17, open to all educators K-12.]

The most important and pressing questions are: why is a Workshop about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict being presented to LAUSD teachers entirely by anti-Israel political activist group?; why was the educational content not vetted?; and why were no pro-Israel historians invited to present?

Jack Saltzberg is The Israel Group founder and executive director js@theisraelgroup.org

Barry Forman, MD contributed to this story.


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Email sent to the LAUSD Board of Education

Subject: The LAUSD Board of Education must cancel this Saturday’s anti-Israel pro-Palestinian indoctrination workshop

October 20, 2017

Mónica García, President of the Board Dr. George J. McKenna III Scott Schmerelson Nick Melvoin Ref Rodriguez Kelly Gonez Dr. Richard Vladovic Jefferson Crain, Executive Officer of the Board

The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education 333 South Beaudry Avenue, 24th Floor Los Angeles, CA 90017

Dear LAUSD Board of Education,

The Israel Group is an educational organization that is also connected with a larger coalition of Jewish, Christian, educational, and civil rights organizations that represent hundreds of thousands of constituents.

It has come to our attention—and we have reported—that this coming Saturday, October 21, 2017, the LAUSD is co-sponsoring a Workshop for teachers K-12 entitled “Learning about Islam and the Arab World.” The Workshop is scheduled to be presented at UTLA’s Helen Bernstein Professional Development Center, located at 3303 Wilshire Blvd., 8th floor, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. According to the literature, LAUSD teachers will receive salary points for completing the Workshop. (This Saturday’s Workshop is a second of two parts, the first was held last Saturday, October 19, 2017.)

After investigating the Workshop’s co-sponsoring organization, The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FORUSA), and reviewing the educational handouts, Workshop  Agenda, and presenters of the Workshop, it is extremely clear that the entire agenda of the Workshop is to religiously and politically indoctrinate teachers with the goal of promoting a state of “Palestine,” Islam, and the Palestinian cause, while blatantly vilifying and polarizing Jews and the State of Israel, based on false history, lies, mistruths, and standard anti-Semitic canards. For a better overview, please see The Israel Group’s initial report or a follow-up news story by WND.

The LAUSD co-sponsored Workshop, unfortunately, constitutes a one-sided official condemnation of core Jewish religious beliefs and violates the rights of Jews under the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses of the First Amendment, subjecting those involved to liability for damages.  See Catholic League for Religious & Civil Rights v. City & Cty. of San Francisco, 624 F.3d 1043 (9th Cir. 2010).

In addition, because the Workshops are held on Saturdays—the Jewish Sabbath—the LAUSD is inhibiting the ability of observant Jews to attend, further limiting the Jewish perspective and ability to counter the propaganda and factually inaccurate information about Israel being taught at the Workshop.

Lastly, The Israel Group has learned that FORUSA, several presenters, and educational content providers at the Workshop are highly involved with and promote and support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Therefore, we remind the LAUSD Board of Education that, pursuant to Section 2010 of the California Public Contract Code, any state contract with a value of $100,000 or more requires a written certification that the contracting party does not have a discriminatory policy against a sovereign nation or people, such as Israel.

Accordingly, The Israel Group hereby demands that the LAUSD Board of Education:

  1. Immediately cancel this Saturday’s Workshop, and do not reschedule another Workshop on this topic until a complete investigative review of the co-sponsoring organization(s), presenters, educational information, and the entire vetting process has been completed;

  2. Inform The Israel Group if  this Saturday’s Workshop  is or  is not  being canceled;

  3. Inform The Israel Group and the public at large about any LAUSD investigation and public discussions regarding this topic;

  4. Implement safeguards and protocols to prevent such future occurrences;

  5. Require that both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict be properly represented for such workshops, rather than only using anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian activists and organizations;

  6. Demand that future Workshops’ publicity, literature, and registration forms show controversial topics that will be taught (such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict), instead of insidiously hiding it from the public; and

  7. Provide proof that the contract with the Workshop provider is for less than $100,000, and, if not, please provide proof that the provider has executed the certification required under Section 2010.

If for no other reason, the Workshop must be rescheduled in order to allow the LAUSD the necessary time to properly evaluate and act on the aforementioned objections.

Lastly, we welcome the opportunity to meet in order to discuss further concerns and the seriousness of the scheduled Workshop.


Jack Saltzberg Founder / Executive Director