Victorian sample exam Israel demolitions persecutes Arabs

July 16, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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A Victorian  year 12 Health and Human Development practice exam included a question asking about religious discrimination and how it can influence mental health giving an example that the demolition of  homes by  Israel persecuted Arabs.

Rabbi James Kennard

A sample answer stated, “An example of an individual being persecuted for their religion could be the Arab families living in Israel who practice the Islam religion rather the Jewish religion. Including unlawful demolition of homes and forced displacement and detainment of these families.”

A request of all copies of the sample SAC distributed to be returned has been made.

The principal of Melbourne’s Mount Scopus Memorial College Rabbi James Kennard lodged a complaint. He told The Australian: “It’s an utter falsehood. It creates a negative impression of Israel, which is actually a centre of religious tolerance … and the only democratic country in the Middle East.

I will be explaining to my students that this not something they should pay any attention to but I’m also concerned about students at other schools.

What is the effect on these students reading this stuff?”

 The practice exam was produced by the Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (ACHPER), Victorian Branch, which is a professional association representing teachers and other professionals working in the fields of health, physical education and sport recreation areas of study in Victoria.

Later on during the day, Principal Rabbi Kennard posted on Facebook: ”

I received a call this evening (in response to my request) from Hilary Shelton, CEO of ACHPER Victoria (see the article below). She told me that in addition to recalling all copies of the paper in question, ACHPER would be conducting a thorough and in-depth review of their processes, to see how the material came to be included in the practice SAC and how to ensure that it did not happen again.

She welcomed my analysis that one of the writers insidiously included their extreme political agenda into the text, and that the reviewers who approved it were either sloppy, or caught up in the anti-Israel narrative. She did not say whether she agreed with what I said, but she agreed that something had gone wrong and needed correcting.

She could not give me a timeframe for the review, because it was to be a “deep review”. I asked to see a copy of the findings and she said that would be up to the Board. Finally, I asked for her reassurance that this would not be kicked into the long grass, but would be acted on with urgency, and she agreed.

At this stage I believe that that’s the most we can ask for.

Ramona Chrapot

Ramona Chrapot is a student at Mount Scopus and discovered the question in the paper.

She told J-Wire: It is very disappointing that the education system is promoting such outrageous false facts. They are misleading impressionable students who will be the future leaders. It is upsetting that it is still happening today in 2019. Let’s change the system!”

Jeremy Leibler, the president of The Zionist Federation of Australia stated: “It is absurd that of all the examples the publishers could have used to highlight examples of religious discrimination, they have elected to single out Israel, a country where Arab citizens have full equal rights. One can’t escape the irony of providing this factually incorrect comparison when there is actual religious discrimination in neighbouring Arab countries against both Christians and Muslims of specific denominations. Israeli Arabs are elected members of the Knesset, serve as Justices of the Supreme Court and enjoy the same rights as Jewish or Christian Israelis.

“This practice exam was produced by the Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (ACHPER), Victoria, an organisation that claims to be the peak body representing Health Education, Outdoor Education and Sports teachers in Victoria. We should all be concerned that the Achper has hijacked an important educational issue in the curriculum to perpetuate their own political agenda.

“This isn’t the first time where a certain ideology has found its way into the classroom but should be the last. Better practices need to be put in place to ensure that high school students are not the unsuspecting victims of extreme radical ideologies.”

The executive director of The Jewish Community Council of Victoria Judy Fetter and former president Nina Bassat added: “The JCCV condemns in the strongest terms the  VCE Health and Human Development practice SAC assessment task which refers to Israel persecuting Arabs by demolishing their homes because, “they don’t follow the Jewish religion.”

The basic premise in the practice SAC assessment task is false, as well as being political and biased. Such lack of accuracy and impartiality, given that six experienced teachers were involved in the preparation of the material is indicative of systemic and endemic failures within the Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation.

The Middle East is rife with countries where there is gross religious intolerance, and where particularly members of the Christian, Baha’i and Yezidi faiths are persecuted. It is egregious to select Israel, the only country in the region where religious freedom is an accepted right as an example of religious intolerance.

This level of ignorance evidenced in this task among experienced teachers is beyond appalling and we would call on the Council to provide intensive in-servicing and education in consultation with the Jewish Community.”

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