NSW Jewish Board of Deputies calls for withdrawal of school text book

October 26, 2009 by J-Wire Staff
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A text book widely distributed to NSW secondary schools is being targeted for withdrawal under a shadow that it offends Judaism.

Vic Alhadeff

Vic Alhadeff

The book is “The 2009 edition of the Cambridge Studies of Religion Stage 6” textbook, whose authors are Christopher Hartney and Jonathan Noble. It  is published by the Cambridge University Press Australia & New Zealand.

The chapter on Judaism contains numerous offensive claims. Four examples:

  1. “Much modern conflict in the world is related to the reactions of other groups to the Jewish people.”
  2. Passover “involves slaughtering lambs, smearing the lintel on the front door with blood and eating unleavened breads for seven days”.
  3. “While outlawed in many countries, polygamy is commonly practised in Israel today.”
  4. “The tendency for Jews to choose sophisticated professions such as law, medicine and scholarship is closely connected to Jewish family togetherness.”

In addition, the chapter is replete with inaccuracies, spelling mistakes, inappropriate photographs and poor editing.

We have met with Jonathan Nobel, who undertook to convey our concerns to Cambridge University Press Australia & New Zealand.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff said: “It is alarming that a book which is widely used in schools across New South Wales could contain such so many inaccuracies and such appalling statements – one of which is in the realm of racial vilification. Our concern is that thousands of students are being seriously misinformed by this textbook.

“This textbook should be withdrawn from circulation immediately.  We have put that request to the publisher. We have received a response saying they will review our concerns.”

·         The book won the 2009 Australian Publishers Association award. It is the Secondary Single Title Category Winner.

“It is shocking that such a flawed publication could win this award,” Alhadeff added.

Alhadeff was alerted to the existence of the book by a teacher from within the Jewish schools system.


2 Responses to “NSW Jewish Board of Deputies calls for withdrawal of school text book”
  1. Tanya Arons says:

    I agree with Chaim. The use of anti-semitic ideologies pedalled to all Australian minors through the education system under the, one would think, normally reputable kind of publisher as Cambridge University Press is wrong, wrong, wrong and nauseating beyond belief.

    I demand that all textbooks containing pernicious vilification of Jews be recalled, and yes, a public apology to the Jewish communities of Australia, and some major deprogramming of all the little kids indoctrinated by this vile book be conducted as well. How can we prevent antisemitism when it is endorsed by the Government and used to ‘educate’ our kids? Get a grip, Cambridge University Press. Get a grip also The Education Department. Shame on you both.

    yours truly disgusted,
    Tanya Arons

  2. Chaim says:

    An email I have sent to the publishing house…

    Mr Mark O’Neil
    Executive Director
    Cambridge University Press Australia and New Zealand

    Dear Mr O’Neill,

    I am writing to you in relation to reports in today’s media about the Cambridge University Press’ 2009 edition of Cambridge Studies of Religion Stage 6. I was appalled, shocked and horrified (indeed, none of these terms do justice to what I am feeling) to read that this textbook contains blatantly antisemitic allegations that would not be out of place in Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

    According to the reports that I have read in the Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Jewish News and on jwire.com.au, the book – as you are no doubt aware by now – contains allegations like, “Much modern conflict in the world is related to the reactions of other groups to the Jewish people”, and that polygamy is widely practised among Israelis. Such allegations are not simply erroneous; they are pernicious. They paint a highly negative picture of Jews and Judaism and provide fodder for racists.

    I am a fifth generation Australian and a proud member of the Sydney Jewish community. Unfortunately, I am occasionally the victim of antisemitism, be it verbal or physical. Despite the existence of racial vilification legislation, and the good work of so many human rights organisations to promote intercultural understanding, racism and antisemitism remain a fact of life in modern day Australia. As I am sure you can appreciate, the existence of materials containing crude racist sentiment serve to fuel outbreaks of abuse and violence against Jews and other minorities. It is, therefore, astounding that a reputable publishing house like Cambridge University Press would produce a textbook that could similarly serve to foster anti-Jewish sentiment among its young, impressionable readers.

    I echo the call of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies that you immediately withdraw this textbook from retail outlets and that you recall all existing copies that have been distributed to schools. Additionally, a public apology to the Jewish community (and to all people of good conscience) would also not go astray.

    I await your prompt response.

    Yours in consternation,

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