‘Resistance’ in action: Pro-Palestine protesters stop Edina school board meeting
An Edina school board meeting was adjourned early Monday night after protesters first prompted the board into recess. In response to the recess, protesters began chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Protesters were wearing keffiyeh, waving the flag of Palestine, and holding up signs with the same divisive slogan.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has labeled the slogan as antisemitic, documenting that it “has long been used by anti-Israel voices, including supporters of terrorist organizations such as Hamas and the PFLP [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine], which seek Israel’s destruction through violent means.” The American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas have also called out the rallying cry as antisemitic. Pro-Palestine activists and supporters have disputed this interpretation of the chant, stating it is a call for freedom.
According to Fox 9, the protest was in response to the Edina school district suspending two students for chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” during a student walkout in October.
Proposed Minnesota K-12 social studies standards risk fueling similar sentiments
One does not have to look much further than the proposed changes to Minnesota’s K-12 social studies standards for examples of how similar division risks being stoked in schools.
Gov. Tim Walz’s Minnesota Department of Education has rewritten the state’s social studies standards to align with a “liberated” version of ethnic studies — based on the definition now embedded in state law — whose origins lie in the radical student movements of the 1960s created to “underwrite liberationist cultural politics,” writes David Ferrero with the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism.
Under Minnesota’s proposed ethnic studies standards, one of which is entitled “Resistance,” students are, for example, instructed to “organize” to resist “systemic and coordinated exercises of power” against “marginalized,” oppressed groups. A September 2021 working draft example of what this should include listed the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Here’s part of how Brian Lozenski, who is connected with the Minnesota Ethnic Studies Coalition now named in state law, describes ethnic studies:
Ethnic Studies explores the colonial roots of the dispossession of Palestinian land and the creation of Zionism.
According to the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis, “Lozenski does not offer an evidenced and sourced historical account but limits his focus exclusively to Palestinian talking points…”
Other proposed Minnesota social studies standards and benchmarks include references to “settler colonialism,” “decolonization,” and “dispossession.” A high school geography benchmark directs students to: “Analyze the impact of colonialism, from multiple perspectives, on the emergence of independent states and the tensions that arise when the boundaries of political units do not correspond to the nationalities or ethnicities of the people living within them.” The examples in the September 2021 working draft included “Israel-Palestine.”
A proposed world history standard directs K-12 students to “ask historical questions about context, change and continuity in order to identify and analyze dominant and non-dominant narratives about the past.” The corresponding high school benchmark: “Examine conflicting narratives about the past and identify how these narratives can lead to global conflict.” The examples in the September 2021 working draft included the “Israel-Palestine conflict.”
While students should learn about this conflict and the complicated history, the rhetoric in the proposed revisions would present this and other social studies content from a single perspective that risks enflaming divisions in schools. It also happens to be the prevailing perspective of those protesting Israel at school board meetings, on college campuses in the U.S., and at embassies around the world.