CAIR-CAN calls on Jewish school to remove anti-Muslim textbook
Monday, November 19, 2012 1:12 pm
-For Immediate Release –
(Ottawa, Canada – November 19, 2012) – The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) has issued an open letter calling on Jewish organizations and the Ontario Ministry of Education to investigate anti-Muslim literature found in at least one Toronto Jewish school.
According to the syllabus at the Joe Dwek Ohr HaEmet Sephardic School in Thornhill, ON, a textbook titled 2000 Years of Jewish History: From the Destruction of the Second Bais Hamikdash Until the Twentieth Century, published by Feldheim Publishers, is being used in Grade 7 and Grade 8 girls’ classes.
The open letter was sent to Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center For Holocaust Studies, and The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, as well as the Ministry of Education. A private letter of concern was also sent to the school.
Both letters indicate that the textbook uses inflammatory and hateful terms in describing Muslims, such as “rabid fanatics” with “savage beginnings” (page 45).
The entire chapter devoted to Islam presents a pernicious and extreme portrayal of Muslims and the Islamic faith (pages 41 – 46). The material further denigrates the Prophet Muhammad as a “rabid Jew-hater” (page 41) and falsely portrays Islam as inherently anti-Semitic and devoted to hating Jews. Further, the descriptions refer to an ongoing attitude – not one that is static in history – defined as being “a combination of wildness and civility […] towards the Jews throughout history” (page 44).
“Overall, this teaching material undeniably leaves impressionable young Jewish readers with a sense of suspicion and even intolerance towards their fellow Canadians,” reads the open letter.
The call for cooperation comes on the heels of an investigation into curriculum at a Toronto school that was allegedly promoting hate through anti-Semitic descriptions of Jewish people in historical narrations. The school moved quickly to remove the offensive material and launched its own internal review. Investigators subsequently ruled that the references were “not deemed criminal”, though they “suggested intolerance.”
“We look to Jewish organizations to join us again in speaking out against the harmful stereotypes that can creep into curricula and which we would all agree must be expunged,” says Ihsaan Gardee, Executive Director at CAIR-CAN. “As our private letter of concern to the school stated, we are ready to engage in dialogue with the school to offer accurate information about Islam and Muslims in a spirit of understanding and goodwill.
“The Ministry of Education also has a role to play to call on all schools to examine their materials to ensure they fall within acceptable parameters of the retelling of history and stay far away from vilifying any faith or cultural group,” says Mr. Gardee.
Read the open letter here.
CAIR-CAN is a national, non-profit, grassroots organization striving to be a leading voice that enriches Canadian society through Muslim civic engagement and the promotion of human rights.
Ihsaan Gardee, CAIR-CAN Executive Director, 613.254.9704; 613.853.4111
Amira Elghawaby, CAIR-CAN Human Rights Officer, 613.254.9704