YRDSB, Minister of Education Respond to Offensive Anti-Israel Video Included in Ontario Curriculum Resources

July 29, 2020

Statement

Toronto (July 29, 2020) - Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) appreciates York Region District School Board (YRDSB) Director of Education Louise Sirisko and Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce for speaking out after FSWC raised concerns about a biased anti-Israel video that students were required to watch as part of an online Civics and Careers Continuing Education course.

In a public statement released yesterday, Sirisko provided assurance that the video - which was created and distributed by the Ministry of Education's e-Learning Ontario and included in the resources for the revised e-Learning Civics and Careers curriculum - "has been reviewed and removed from the resources available to school boards."

Minister Lecce tweeted, "Very concerned that this offensive material was on a learning website. Working with @gilamartow, I immediately ordered it to be taken down (it was that day) & investigated to ensure it never happens again. We will not tolerate anti-Semtism in any form."

In a letter sent to Minister Lecce on Monday, FSWC's Director of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, stated, “We are absolutely appalled by this biased anti-Israel video, which vilifies the Jewish people of Israel and contains dangerous misinformation. We would like answers about how such a video could have possibly ended up in the provincial curriculum. We ask that you make any changes to the process of curriculum development that are required to ensure that such biased propaganda does not end up being taught in our schools again.”

FSWC awaits a response to its letter that will explain how such a video ended up in the resources for the Civics and Careers curriculum and was approved by the Ministry of Education as well as what steps will be taken to prevent the distribution of such dangerous misinformation to Ontario school boards in the future.

"We thank Sirisko and Minister Lecce for publicly sending a message that such misinformation and bias will not be accepted, whether it's inside a classroom or on an e-learning platform, and for ensuring the quick removal of the video," said Rabbi Meyer May, Executive Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is extremely complex, which this video fails to recognize. Instead, it shares a one-sided view of the conflict as well as promotes a harmful negative view of Israel's Jewish people. Schools are meant for educating youth, not building prejudice."

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