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B.C. school district investigates exam asking pupils if Israel should exist

Test question asked students to offer perspectives on both sides
A question from an exam given to some Burnaby Grade 6 and 7 students shows a question asking them to argue both sides of whether Israel should exist as a homeland for Jewish people. (@DrJacobsRad/X)

The school district in Burnaby, B.C., has launched an investigation into what it says was a harmful exam that asked students to make arguments about whether Jewish people deserve or need a homeland.

The question was posed by a teacher to Grade 6 and 7 students in an elementary social studies exam.

The district says in a statement that the question stated that “some believe that Jewish people deserve or need a homeland (Israel), while others believe that Israel should not exist.” Students were then asked to provide perspectives on both sides of the debate.

District Supt. Karim Hachlaf says in the statement that regardless of the intention, the question is deeply concerning and could be trauma-inducing for students, especially Jewish children.

The district says the family of one of the students raised the concern by sending an email to the district with the exam question.

In addition to the investigation, the district says it will reach out to families in the classroom and the Jewish community to determine what additional supports are needed, and it will work with administrators to reinforce use of appropriate learning resources within its schools.

The Canadian Press