Photo Credit:
Richard Cravatts

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.”


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Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., is president emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, and the author of “Dispatches From the Campus War Against Israel and Jews.”


  1. But students have no idea of past history. They say history can repeat itself. I think yes, but through ignorance. These teachers are teaching these kids to stop and look formfacts before listening to bias bigotry from those who have rhese things handed down to them. I would say from all the enormous facts there could not be but one answer if one looks. I think it would not bring but awareness of the evil of a dictator. One would only have to visit europe or the museum here to see this evil. Maybe a field trip

  2. Parents need to seek a very good education for their children. My daughter has her PHD in brain neuroscience, at 27. She was raised Catholic and rhus raised to love and respect the Jews. But those with less education will be good for them to learn to find things out before l

  3. I found anti-Judaism at every level of education in my own personal experience as a student and a teacher. Perhaps being in a predominantly fundamentalist state was part of it. I was told I needed ‘to find Jesus’ after I stopped laying low as a Jew for 5 years. A year later I was out of teaching. Stopped laying low? Admitting I was Jewish when asked.

  4. Anything my Daddy says must be true! Unless he says check with you your Mom first! Next in the docket Asian Students take over major campuses! Like stealth geniuses they changed the course of campus life from rowdy to quiet. From Partay, to Studey! Any complaints? Try to get through their Tiger Moms!

  5. All they really wanted was to sow the seed of doubt and ambiguity in their little 8th grade minds. And so they have. It may not take root in all, but if it does in even one, they will have accomplished their mission for now. It’s a long, tedious, patient war they wage, one they feel confident to win…in time.

  6. All they really wanted was to sow the seed of doubt and ambiguity in their little 8th grade minds. And so they have. It may not take root in all, but if it does in even one, they will have accomplished their mission for now. It’s a long, tedious, patient war they wage, one they feel confident to win…in time.

  7. Most are leftists and “progressives” who secretly approve of this kind of education when it comes to anyone who hates the USA. At best it keeps them from battling against the enemy…at worst it contributes to the destruction of both US and Israel. I am a Jewish man who abhors these kinds of wafflers and twisters of Jewish and American history in order to prove they “belong” to the elites in America. They appear to think that it somehow helps them. It is not OK to trade Israeli lives, or anybody’s at that, to save your own skin.

  8. In the UK where I come from schools were taught
    About the Holocust but now many schools have
    Band it because muslium children and there parents
    Are offended for there children to study about
    Jews during WW2 . Every collage and Univercity
    In the UK most of them have been over run by
    Exstreamist Islamist who are making Jewish students lives Hell . The heads of these places are turning a blind eye because they are getting donations
    For there Unis from the Saudis and the Emirets
    Islamic oil countries . Then you’ve got the
    Lecturers who are exstreamist Lefties . They allow
    Into these places exstreamist Imams to preach hatred
    Nothing has been done by the government it’s too late for the UK but if you don’t get Reid of OBAMA
    God help The USA !!!

  9. This has been an ongoing problem in California schools for the nearly the last two decades. For twenty years while my children were in schools, I was very much “in their faces” if I saw something that was not “kosher”. I compared my education of a different time to what was being pushed upon my children and would be part of the “site council”, be there for the school board meetings and insisting that instead of whitewashing history to teach the facts and let the children understand that this should NOT happen again. I’ve met with teachers who should NOT have been given the opportunity to go near a child for many reasons and praised those teachers who clearly enjoyed what they did and gave from their heart to the children.

    I tell new parents of school-aged children to find a charter school or talk to a private school about reducing the fees. If you tell them that you want a better education for your child than what today’s public school has, they will work with you – even if it is a parochial school. In the end everyone wins.

  10. There is freedom of religion but how what about factual education? That does not exist under Common Core. Mazel tov on your daughter with her Ph.D. That is good to hear. I work in Mental Health and see the new doctors coming in. Some are naturals and have the hunger and feel for the patients while others want just the money. I am sure your daughter is of the later. May she continue to shine and make you proud.

  11. First of all the author writes as if people with education degrees actually have an education – almost certainy not. Education programs for open to nearly everyone and you have to be serious mentally incompetent not to get a degree from one of these joke ‘schools.’

  12. No, while Americans are guaranteed freedom of religion by the Constitution the Obama, the DNC, and every liberal hates that so while they are still in the process of tearing up the Constitution they are trying to make your life hell if you don’t agree with them 100%.

  13. That is Christian at the moment. But United States is made uo of millions of Catholics and next to Israel as many Jews. Then the most Christians of various denominations. They are way outnumbered. And our leaders are a Catholic, Jewish, and Christians…Its sad but many states have already had to make laws protexting the bible and other Christian crosses etc. Such as the Jews..But still between Jews and Christians we hold the ground..

  14. Chrisrians have been taught to be meek and mild and were slaughtered as lambs. We are just starting to push back and when one is pushed in a corner then you have to do these things. A Chrisrian church today with several hundred Christians hiding in it was destroyed and all killed. Christians are slaughted many days now in the middle east. A lot of left , so soon they will be there no more..

  15. And the cnild left behind was the worst idea. You were certainly left behind in my days of education..and you will be left behind if you attend a good university or child grew up in a Catholic school…very good education and well worth the money..I would never allowed her to go to a public school..

  16. Oh Hinda, you are so righf. I just had two surgeries from a doctor in his thirties. He is such a natural and caring surgeon..loved him and so smart..

  17. Believe it or not i am a democrat but more conservative side. President Obamawith all his faults as one wants to find has done good things as well. If only you want to praise him for finding Bin Laden who destroyed the twin towers and killed many many people just working. And many cnildren in those buildings in childcare. Along with firemen and others trying to help people escape. Only president to take a big chance xuring an election. If onl y killing Bin Laden and throwing his body in the ocean one should be grateful of bis presidency. Ten hears later, how soon we forget the deeds of this madman

  18. When this happened,. He knew personally the stewardness who had her throat sliced. He broke in tears..such evil those who hate us…they love to die as martyrs..

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