Portland, Oregon, has earned its reputation as America’s most radical city. Its public school system was an early proponent of left-wing racialism and has long pushed students toward political activism. As with the death of George Floyd four years ago, the irruption of Hamas terrorism in Israel has provided Portland’s public school revolutionaries with another cause du jour: now they’ve ditched the raised fist of Black Lives Matter and traded it in for the black-and-white keffiyeh of Palestinian militants.

I have obtained a collection of publicly accessible documents produced by the Portland Association of Teachers, an affiliate of the state teachers’ union that encourages its more than 4,500 members to “Teach Palestine!” (The union did not respond to a request for comment.)

The lesson plans are steeped in radicalism, and they begin teaching the principles of “decolonization” to students as young as four and five years old. For prekindergarten kids, the union promotes a workbook from the Palestinian Feminist Collective, which tells the story of a fictional Palestinian boy named Handala. “When I was only ten years old, I had to flee my home in Palestine,” the boy tells readers. “A group of bullies called Zionists wanted our land so they stole it by force and hurt many people.” Students are encouraged to come up with a slogan that they can chant at a protest and complete a maze so that Handala can “get back home to Palestine”—represented as a map of Israel.

Other pre-K resources include a video that repeats left-wing mantras, including “I feel safe when there are no police,” and a slideshow that glorifies the Palestinian intifada, or violent resistance against Israel. The recommended resource list also includes a “sensory guide for kids” on attending protests. It teaches children what they might see, hear, taste, touch, and smell at protests, and promotes photographs of slogans such as “Abolish Prisons” and “From the River to the Sea.”

In kindergarten through second grade, the ideologies intensify. The teachers’ union recommends a lesson, “Art and Action for Palestine,” that teaches students that Israel, like America, is an oppressor. The objective is to “connect histories of settler colonialism from Palestine to the United States” and to “celebrate Palestinian culture and resistance throughout history and in the present, with a focus on Palestinian children’s resistance.”

The lesson suggests that teachers should gather the kindergarteners into a circle and teach them a history of Palestine: “75 years ago, a lot of decision makers around the world decided to take away Palestinian land to make a country called Israel. Israel would be a country where rules were mostly fair for Jewish people with White skin,” the lesson reads. “There’s a BIG word for when Indigenous land gets taken away to make a country, that’s called settler colonialism.”

Before snack time, the teacher is encouraged to share “keffiyehs, flags, and protest signs” with the children, and have them create their own agitprop material, with slogans such as “FREE PALESTINE, LET GAZA LIVE, [and] PALESTINE WILL BE FREE.” The intention, according to the lesson, is to move students toward “taking collective action in support of Palestinian liberation.”

The recommended curriculum also includes a pamphlet titled “All Out for Palestine.” The pamphlet is explicitly political, with a sub-headline blaring in all capital letters: “STOP THE GENOCIDE! END U.S. AID TO IRSAEL! FREE PALESTINE!” The authors denounce “Zionism’s long genocidal war on Palestinian life” and encourage students to support “boycott, divestment, and sanctions” policies against Israel.

The pamphlet includes chants that teachers can adopt in the classroom. Some imply support for militancy and political violence: “Resistance is justified when people are occupied!”; “We salute all our martyrs! mothers, fathers, sons and daughters!”; “Justice is our demand! No peace on stolen land!”

It’s not immediately clear to what extent the “Teach Palestine!” lessons have been adopted in Portland public school classrooms. But the teachers’ union claims that the district has been “actively censoring teachers” for promoting pro-Palestine ideologies; in response, it has assembled a legal guide for how teachers can keep promoting the lessons under the guise of meeting state curriculum standards.

Photo: tzahiV / iStock / Getty Images Plus


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