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September 3, 2014 / 8 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust denial’

Anti-Semitism is the New “Black” in California Public Schools

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Teaching in the public school system in Southern California has taught me a lot of things. However, the most important thing that I learned through my several years as a public educator in California is that teaching “tolerance” means anti-Semitism is just fine. In public schools, anti-Semitism is the new “Black,” just like the Netflix popular series Orange is the New Black. In other words, anti-Semitism is cool.

If you are a gay student, you are protected. If you are Hispanic, the public school system will make sure anybody who even hints that you are inferior will be severely punished. If you are Black, you are a protected minority as well. But no matter how many times supposedly open-minded teachers teach “The Diary of Anne Frank,” a Jewish student isn’t protected. The public education doesn’t really consider Jews minorities. Some think it’s because of their light skin color, while others think it’s because many come from families who just happen to work hard and make a good living. However, the seething hatred of Israel from most liberal educators is what causes most of their apathy towards Jewish students in the present day.

Discussions about how the Holocaust never happened are common in California public schools. Just ask “Jazzy,” a Southern California high school student who was interviewed by Martin Hill from Libertyfight.com. The clip, which went viral, has been erased but not before receiving thousands of “likes” when it first aired. In the video, Jazzy cites that there has been no proof Jews died from being gassed to death. She mentions that not a single body was found with any signs of being gassed. The most disgusting part about this ignorance: Jazzy received an “A” on a homework assignment she submitted based on her research.

The truth is that in California’s public education system, one can earn an “A” on an assignment that has several spelling errors, contains shady research, and is completely incoherent. Teachers believe giving students high grades increases their confidence, even if the high grade hasn’t truly been earned. However, can you imagine a student turning in an assignment that denies slavery existed? Can you imagine a student turning in a paper that hints the suicide of Tyler Clementi had nothing to do with his sexuality? You can bet that student would be yelled at, suspended, and viciously taunted by the school staff. Imagine what would happen with the teacher who gave that student an A!

My first professional experience with anti-Semitism came when teaching in Glendale, a middle class city that is just a couple minutes north of Los Angeles. A majority of the population is Armenian and I was shocked to learn just how much a significant percent of Armenians in Glendale hates Jews. This shocked me, especially since studying how Armenians, like Jews, faced inhumane genocide. Even the best and most intelligent Armenian students were taught to hate Jews. Things turned pretty brutal when a Jewish student of mine named Stacey was severely bullied and physically attacked by other Armenian students, who received an after-school detention something their parents actually thought was too harsh.

Our administration had us attend several conferences on “diversity” and “tolerance.” However, my complaints about anti-Semitism coming from students and even other teachers were virtually ignored. But hey our school was required to teach “The Diary of Anne Frank,” even if one teacher told me she wouldn’t spend much time on the book since a lot of it was fiction. Some parents even requested that their child be offered an alternative assignment. Oh, and the teacher that called Anne Frank a spoiled princess is still teaching at the same exact school!

Stealth Anti-Semitism In Middle School

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

The Rialto Unified School District school board outside of Los Angeles was in full damage control earlier this month, fending off universal opprobrium over a third-quarter English Language Arts argumentative writing/research project given to 2,000 eighth-graders. The breathtakingly ill-conceived assignment asked students to “read and discuss multiple, credible articles on this issue, and write an argumentative essay, based on 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 wealth.”

Most critics denounced the assignment as absurd on its face, since it asked middle school students, after reading only a handful of brief research essays, to convince a reader that the Holocaust, one of the most documented historical events in modern human history, either happened or did not happen. Even more egregious than the notion that the Shoah might not have occurred was the statement that, as the instructions for the assignment read, “some people claim the Holocaust is not an actual event, but instead is a propaganda tool.”

Given that even American high school students cannot identify, as random examples, the half century during which the U.S. Civil War was fought, name a single Supreme Court justice, identify the intent of the Bill of Rights, or identify Britain on a map of the world, the notion that eighth graders could coherently disprove something that is an historical fact, not an opinion, is obviously a useless intellectual exercise. And critics of the assignment were appalled that students were even exposed to the idea that the Holocaust was a myth in the first place, a notion only those on the lunatic fringe embrace.

While the shell-shocked spokesperson for Rialto school district, Syeda Jafri, assured the media that no complaint about the assignment had been forthcoming from within the district system, either from teachers or parents, the larger question is how the committee of eighth–grade teachers who conceived the critical thinking exercise in the first place had not anticipated the calamitous reaction to their choice for the essay topic. Presumably, every member of that committee had attended college; some, perhaps, even possess advanced degrees. In an education culture suffused with political correctness – and especially on college campuses where the educators studied for their profession – an enormous amount of attention is paid to who may say what about whom and what is acceptable thought and speech on campuses where “victim” groups vie for rights and accommodations.

One of the groups that does not fare well on campuses these days, however, is Jews, particularly in the context of the debate over Israel and the Palestinians. In fact, the same careless sentiments that accuse Jewish students of being inherently racist for supporting the “apartheid” state of Israel seem to have been present in the committee room when ideas for this year’s assignment were being tossed about for consideration. Consider how classically anti-Semitic the language of the assignment itself is, suggesting in the same paragraph – not once but twice – that the Holocaust “is a propaganda tool that was used for political and monetary gain,” and “merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain.” Who is seeking monetary gain? Who schemed to extort the West? Who has global influence over public opinion? Who seeks undeserved profit? For anti-Semites, the answer has always been the same: Jews.

And that is the very clear message transmitted in the essay assignment. Professor Robert S. Wistrich, one of the world’s leading authorities on anti-Semitism, has noted that Holocaust denial by definition libels Jews; “that, by accusing Jews…of inventing the Shoah to extract billions of dollars and blackmail Germany or the West, the deniers add a peculiarly vile conspiracy theory to the arsenal of millennial anti-Semitism and transform the victims into superlatively cunning, fraudulent, and despicable perpetrators” – precisely what the assumption would be of any student who completed the assignment with the thesis that the Holocaust was a fraud, a “scheme,” or a “propaganda tool.”

Holocaust Denial and Critical Thinking Skills

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Charles C.W. Cooke opened up a can of worms at NRO when he opined, on 7 May, that asking 8th graders to prove to themselves whether the Holocaust had actually happened was a perfectly good exercise in academic honesty.  He certainly has no doubts about the reality of the Holocaust, he stressed.  But he also thinks we shouldn’t fear the outcome of an empirical investigation into the question, which can be compared with debates over value questions like whether “war is always wrong,” or whether “sharia law would be good for the West.”

Jonah Goldberg responded promptly, making the main points that occurred immediately to me.  First, 8th graders are not college students; it’s the rare 8th grader who is up to the rigors of an Oxford Union debate.  Second, debating a factual point that’s subject to empirical disproof is a different game from debating what our moral values should prescribe for us (or, indeed, what those values should be).

Cooke acknowledged both points.  He still thinks we shouldn’t reflexively object to a research-and-reasoning exercise on the reality of the Holocaust.  He compares it in his response to a similar exercise treating the reality of the Declaration of Independence.  In his view, it would be an opportunity to stress the value of empiricism and the use of critical thinking skills.

And while he doesn’t state it explicitly, an implied advantage of doing this with a topic like the Holocaust is that a student’s success would be measurable.  Since we know there was a Holocaust, and we know a great deal about it, a student’s performance will be indicated by whether he concludes that the Holocaust most certainly happened.

Right?  Well, that’s where the elevation of abstract reasoning over all else breaks down for me.  What about the student who doesn’t conclude that the Holocaust happened, but can make a compelling argument – in the abstract – that doubt, at least, should be cast on it; and can even “show his work,” very possibly running logical rings around the instructor?

The question about this scenario is not whether we should “fear” it.  The question is what good it has done to put time and effort into it.  (There’s also a question whether putting effort into it is actively harmful.  More on that in a minute.)

Not every intellectual freedom that we have an inherent right to is a priority for education.  A 13-year-old could congratulate himself, for example, on demonstrating that there’s no objective proof of his existence; and from the standpoint of intellectual freedom, we’d all say, “Knock yourself out, buddy.”  But whether we want him to devote his educational time to that effort, and what we expect him to get out of it, depend on our scale of values.  Education is intrinsically a process in which we make value-based choices about what to emphasize and what to do.  No such thing exists as abstract, non-value-weighted education.

There’s thus a big value difference between giving children the tools of thinking, and selecting things for them to approach with skepticism.  The latter can never be a neutral action, in any context.

In recent decades, in fact, much of academia has made something of a fetish of it for very specific purposes, like casting doubt on whether America’s Founders were Christians or not.  The upshot of this has been that “skepticism” itself has been turned on its head, and middle- and high-school students are encouraged to think they’ve been endowed with a refreshing skepticism on one topic or another, when in fact they’ve simply been indoctrinated with an arguable falsity.

Muslims Planning ‘Shadow Holocaust’ Event on Dutch Memorial Day

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

A Dutch Muslim group is planning to commemorate “the ethnic cleansing of Palestine” on Holland’s memorial day for victims of Nazism.

The Platform Bewust Muslim group is planning to hold the ceremony on Sunday at a mosque in Hilversum, near Amsterdam, under the banner “Palestine, the Shadow Holocaust,” the Jewish television channel Joods Omroep reported Monday on its website.

The event was advertised as a symposium offering “a review of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the passive attitude of the international community.”

May 4 is the Netherlands’ official day for Remembrance of the Dead, when commemorations are held for Dutch civilians and members of the armed forces killed by enemy forces in terrorist attacks or in combat. Many of the events are designed to commemorate victims of Nazism, often with an emphasis on Holocaust victims.

Hilversum has received 45 objections urging that the municipality prevent or postpone the event, Joods Omroep reported. Some complaints also were made to the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, a watchdog group based in The Hague.

Hilversum Mayor Pieter Broertjes told the Joods Omroep that he is discussing the relevant issues with organizers, “including the possibility of postponement.”

One of the complainants is Jack Justus, who was among the leaders of a campaign that ended with the issuing of an injunction in 2012 banning the town of Vorden from advancing plans to memorialize German soldiers on May 4 along with their victims. Memorial organizers had said it was a gesture meant to promote world peace and reconciliation.

But “the Hilversum commemoration tops it all,” Justus told the Joods Omroep. “It’s an enormous insult to victims, survivors and their descendants.”

Separately, Landerd canceled plans to unveil a memorial plaque on Sunday for a German pilot who was shot down over the eastern Dutch town during World War II, the Omroep Brabant reported Monday. The cancellation followed a complaint by Justus and Federative Jewish Netherlands, the Jewish group that had obtained the injunction in 2012.

California School District Cancels Lesson on Holocaust Denial

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

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.

Iran Lawmakers Summon Foreign Minister over Holocaust Condemnation

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

The foreign minister of Iran was summoned to a closed session of the country’s parliament to clarify public comments he made condemning the Holocaust.

Some 54 hard-line lawmakers signed the petition summoning Mohammad Javad Zarif to the session, Reuters reported, citing the official Iranian news agency IRNA.

The Holocaust was “tragically cruel and should not happen again,” Zarif said earlier this month at the Munich Security Conference.

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad often practiced Holocaust denial in public speeches.

Pigs’ Heads Sent to Rome’s Synagogue, Jewish Museum

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

Several pigs’ heads were mailed in boxes last week to Jewish institutions in Rome, including the city’s main synagogue and the Israeli embassy, according to a report in La Repubblica Saturday.

Police intercepted the package that was mailed to the embassy in the prestigious Parioli neighborhood of Rome, after similar “gifts” had been received by the synagogue and the Jewish Museum of Rome.

“Those who insult the Jewish community offend Rome,” said Rome’s mayor Ignazio Marino in a tweet. “We reject the intimidation outright.”

The synagogue’s parcel was delivered Friday moments after staff had received an anonymous phone call warning about a bomb delivered to them.

Bomb disposal experts were rushed to the scene, only to discover a pig’s head, which they believe came from a slaughterhouse.

According to La Repubblica, Rome has seen an unprecedented level of antisemitic intimidation, in anticipation of International Holocaust Memorial Day, Monday, January 27, which is the day of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Allies. The packages included bizarre references to Theodor Herzl, founder of the political Zionist movement, and Holocaust denial slogans, which police believe were intended to “scare the Jewish economy.”

Police are investigating fingerprints and DNA traces found on the packages, which had been secured with packing tape and delivered by the same postal company, TNT. The three parcels arrived at TNT on the evening of January 23 and shipped from a fulfillment center in the southern part of Rome.

On Saturday morning, swastikas and antisemitic slogans have appeared on the walls of buildings in Rome’s third sub-municipality. One of the inscriptions reads “The Holocaust is a lie,” and another is a slur against Anne Frank.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/pigs-heads-sent-to-romes-synagogue-jewish-museum/2014/01/25/

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