‘Extremely one-sided’: Portland teachers union takes down pro-Palestinian teaching guides after Jewish parents deem them antisemitic

The Portland teachers union took down some teaching guides, which Jewish parents said were antisemitic. Union leadership said curriculum taken down will be reviewed.

PORTLAND, Ore. — On Tuesday, the Portland teachers union took down some pro-Palestinian teaching material after some Jewish leaders and parents said the teaching guides were antisemitic.

While Jewish parents told KGW they were pleased with the decision, they were still skeptical it’s enough.

“The guide is extremely one-sided,” Josh Levine, a Portland Public Schools parent, said of the teaching guide. “I mean I’m supportive of the teachers, and to see the leadership put together something like this is just really sad.”  

Some aspects of the teaching guides referred to Israelis as colonial settlers. Teaching material was constructed for grades K-12, though Jewish community leaders said the material glosses over Oct. 7 attacks on Israel and slanted the conflict through a pro-Palestinian lens.

“PAT (Portland Association of Teachers), really since shortly after October 7th, has been engaged in political advocacy on one side of this conflict,” Bob Horenstein, then-community relations director of the Portland Jewish Federation, said.

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Alongside teaching material, a Portland Public Schools Jewish teacher told KGW that the union handed out pro-Palestinian material at a meeting on May 28.

Some pages called the Israeli government “apartheid rule.” Other pamphlets referred to Hamas as a “Palestinian Resistance Force.”

“They’re not encouraging a comprehensive conversation,” Levine said. 

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KGW reached out to Portland Public Schools for an interview and have not heard back yet. KGW also reached out to the teachers union for an interview. They sent a statement saying the teachers union has a history of speaking out against injustice and that the union is committed to social justice, and keeping schools free of discrimination, like Islamophobia and antisemitism. 

Later, union president Angela Bonilla added that the union took down some material for review, which initially didn’t go through their review process.

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Regardless, some Jewish families and leaders worry the teaching guides could lead to antisemitism.

“It feels like the intention is specifically to create that divide,” Levine said.

“We’re going to see damage happen to some of our kids, as we’re already seeing,” David Kosak, a rabbi at Neveh Shalom Synagogue, said.

A Portland Public Schools Jewish teacher also told KGW that the teaching guides felt like a violation of education ethics.

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