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January 19, 2017 / 21 Tevet, 5777
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California School District Cancels Lesson on Holocaust Denial

Among the critics was Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who slammed the assignment as inappropriate.

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This photograph of a Nazi rally, along with suspicious white powder, was once sent to the south Dublin home of Ireland's Justice Minister, David Shatter, who is Jewish.

This photograph of a Nazi rally, along with suspicious white powder, was once sent to the south Dublin home of Ireland's Justice Minister, David Shatter, who is Jewish.
Photo Credit: Irish Independent

Students at a school in California who were given an assignment to compare propaganda with actual evidence on the Holocaust have instead been told to abandon the project.

The order came following a firestorm of criticism and at least one death threat aimed at Southern California’s Rialto Unified School District, which assigned the homework.

According to a report published in The Daily Bulletin newspaper, the project was assigned in April to 2,000 13-and-14 year old eighth grade students, as follows:

Shen tragic events occur in history, there is often debate about their actual existence. For example, some people claim the Holocaust is not an actual historical event, but instead is a propaganda tool that was used for political and monetary gain.  Based upon your research on this issue, write an argumentative essay, utilizing cited textual evidence, in which you explain whether or not you believe the Holocaust was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain. Remember to address counterclaims (rebuttals) to your stated claim. You are also required to use parenthetical (internal) citations and to provide a Works Cited page.”

It had first been reviewed by a committee of eighth grade teachers, and sent to middle school sites in February for comment prior to distribution to the students. No objections were raised at the time, according to the spokesperson.

But the district found itself under siege on Monday, with the switchboard lines ringing off the hook.

At least one person called police repeatedly threatening death to a district spokeswoman Syeda Jafri and the interim school superintendent Mohammad Z. Islam. The incident is under investigation.

But also among the critics was Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, who slammed the assignment as inappropriate.

Rabbi Cooper told FoxNews.com on Monday, “Whatever the motivation, it ends up elevating hate and history to the same level… We should train our kids to have critical thinking, but the problem here is the teacher confused teaching critical thinking with common sense, because common sense dictates you don’t comingle propaganda with common truth.”

The rabbi advised the district to instead assign students to research the issue of Holocaust denial and meet with local survivors of the Nazis.

The school district responded in a statement saying the interim superintendent will speak with its educational services department to “assure that any reference to the Holocaust ‘not occurring’ will be stricken from any current or future argumentative research assignments. The Holocaust is and should be taught in classrooms with sensitivity and profound consideration to the victims who endured the atrocities committed,” the statement continues. “We believe in the words of George Santayana, ‘Those who cannot learn from history are bound to repeat it.”

The Los Angeles office of the Anti-Defamation League said it was satisfied with the district’s actions by Monday. “It is ADL’s general position that an exercise asking students to question whether the Holocaust happened has no academic value; it only gives legitimacy to the hateful and anti-Semitic promoters of Holocaust denial,” Associate Regional Director Matthew Friedman was quoted as saying, after having spoken with the interim superintendent on Friday.

“ADL does not have any evidence that the assignment was given as part of a larger, insidious, agenda,” a blog post quoting Friedman continues. “Rather, the district seems to have given the assignment with an intent, although misguided, to meet Common Core standards relating to critical learning skills.”

In a number of European countries today — including Germany — Holocaust denial is a criminal offense for which one can be sentenced to prison. The Nazis exterminated six million Jews out of a total of some 11 million victims murdered between 1933 and 1945, in the Holocaust that took place prior to and during World War II. Some two-thirds of European Jewry was wiped out in the slaughter, which ended with the defeat of Nazi Germany by the U.S., UK and their Allies.

Hana Levi Julian

About the Author: Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.

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Imported and Older Comments:

  1. Shmuli Cohen says:

    that teacher shoul dbe sacked

  2. Why because maybe they will learn the truth?

  3. Well done.my whole family was cilled

  4. No because it is propagating ignorance. Which is what you seem to possess in the plenty.

  5. That is so wrong! Might as well say it never happened ! We should learn about history , from all the wars and countries with genocides – so our children know what people suffered so their could be a future !
    But today , it’s happening again our world is going again – sad

  6. The choice of spokespeople was terribly tone deaf. Maybe the could have ounter balanced it with another critical thinking project “Islam: Religon of War or Peace?”. That would have made front page of he times and caused street riots. But attacking the Holocaust in the classroom, third page news at best.

  7. Ira Abramson says:

    California is no longer an “American” state.

  8. Judy Pimlott says:

    The Holocaust is real!!!! satan comes not but to steal, kill,and destroy life. 🙂

  9. Who stands to gain in revising the Holocaust? I know. Do you?

  10. Show some movies with bodies and the Army coming into those camps you sorry bunch of s God will punish those who mess with his

  11. Watch the films people. Look at the pile of teeth, and hair and clothing….and then have your say. Never again!

  12. Lloyd Bergner says:

    Mohammad Z. Islam is the interim school superintendent..(you can't make this stuff up)..This says it all

  13. Karen Bryant says:

    That lesson plan should never have been instituted to begin with. Who ever let it get that far should be fired.

  14. Neo nazis alive and well

  15. JoAnn Morris says:

    It worked on you.

  16. what a crock of stupid ing people in california

  17. Has the teacher been replaced?

  18. The interim school superintendent is Mohammad Z Islam and school district spokeswoman is Syeda Jafri . This is a no brainer.

  19. Jesse Long says:

    This is good news and I hope that whichever moronic teacher that did this gets fired from their job as a result of their stupidity.

  20. Robbie Goldstein says:

    It is very obvious what went on and why. The "educators" involved need to be fired.

  21. Anonymous says:

    apparently, the local mosque came up with this foul notion of "debate".

  22. Shame on that school!

  23. Judy Shapiro says:

    California Gov Jerry Brown:


    This is 2014!

  24. Hank Lukas says:

    Never Again, Mohammad Z is an .

  25. Hank Lukas says:

    Hey7 Dan why is your last name Israel? You are a jew hater.

  26. Haley Chace says:

    Wise Move!…very Damn Wise’…don’t even attempt that in our schools ‘

  27. That school teacher knew what they were doing. This is horrible! Shame on that school! Whoever came up with this should be fired!!

  28. Flavio Alves says:

    nazistas estâo no inferno

  29. The Los Angeles Daily News has a good editorial on this today

  30. GOOD!!!!!! That made my blood boil!!!!!

  31. What happened here was some teacher (s) took a topic and decided to teach Argumentative Essay writing with it. The problem is the choice of topic was totally inappropriate and what a poor choice of topic by this teacher (s). Very insensitive!! There are topics to teach argumentative essay writing but you need a topic that you are able to argue. The Holocaust existing is not that topic. It did exist!! I can prove that!

  32. superintendent is a muslim arab-American

  33. Jamie Lowy says:

    Vicki, the superintendent is not an Arab, he is from Bangladesh.

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