Burnaby school asks if Jews 'deserve or need' a homeland

The district said that the question stated in part, 'some believe that Jewish people deserve or need a homeland (Israel), while others believe that Israel should not exist.'

Burnaby school asks if Jews 'deserve or need' a homeland
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An investigation into Burnaby School District has been launched after an exam question asked students to make arguments about whether Jewish people deserve a homeland.

The question was given to Grade 6 and 7 students in an elementary social studies exam.

The district said that the question stated in part, “some believe that Jewish people deserve or need a homeland (Israel), while others believe that Israel should not exist.” It then asked students to provide arguments for and against Israel's existence.

District Supt. Karim Hachlaf said in a statement that the question's intention did not matter and that the question is deeply concerning, and could be trauma-inducing for students.

The district says a student's family raised the concern by emailing the district with the exam question.

In addition to the investigation, the district plans to reach out to the families in the classroom and the Jewish community to assess what additional support is needed, the Canadian Press reports.

The nearby Vancouver Police Department (VPD) has attributed an uptick in hate crimes and protests in the city in 2023 to the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

According to Staff Sgt. Astrid Bonter, the VPD investigated 265 reports of hate crimes last year, marking a 31 percent increase from 2022. She noted that communities including those of South Asian descent, 2SLGBTQ+, and Jewish communities showed increased reporting, details the CBC.

Antisemitism reports specifically saw a 62 percent surge in 2023, with 47 incidents reported compared to 29 in 2022. The VPD indicated that 33 of the 47 incidents in 2023 occurred after the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel.

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