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How to deal with antisemitism in our schools

21 0 26

“Never ascribe to malice what can be explained by ignorance, confusion, or ineptitude.” This statement was made by Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis[1] in response to a disturbing incident that happened in Texas last week.

In a teacher training in Southlake, a suburb outside Dallas, the curriculum director made a surprising statement: “Make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust, that you have one that has an opposing…that has other perspectives.”[2]

She was trying to clarify a new law that took effect in Texas in September. The law states that if teachers choose to teach current events or controversial issues, they need to explore the issues from “diverse and contending perspectives” without taking sides.[3] In the abstract, this might sound like a good idea. In reality, this law was specifically designed to prevent teachers from looking at American history through a lens of how racism and other bias has impacted that history. Not surprisingly, the law is ambiguous and confusing.

“How do you oppose the Holocaust?” one of the teachers asked, sounding rather shocked.[2]

A secretly made tape of this conversation was leaked to the media and a firestorm erupted. The Anti-Defamation League and the local rabbis went to work immediately. The school district administrators stoked their own fire by taking days to unwind an obviously indefensible position. After a few days, however, the district superintendent issued an apology, stating that the school district’s teachers and administrators know there are not two sides of the Holocaust.[2]

And that was that.[4] Or it should have been, but the Jewish world was more than a little shaken. “What should we do?” friends and colleagues asked me. “Isn’t there something we should be doing about this?”........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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