Councilmembers Condemn Holocaust Denying Middle School Assignment
Blumenfield, Englander and Koretz demand public apology and Holocaust sensitivity training.
LOS ANGELES, CA – In a resolution introduced this morning, Los Angeles City Councilmembers Bob Blumenfield, Mitchell Englander and Paul Koretz demanded a public apology from instructors and administrators involved in the recent Rialto school assignment denying the Holocaust. Additionally the Councilmembers called on those involved to participate in Holocaust sensitivity training at the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
In April, students at Rialto Middle School were asked to debate whether the Holocaust “was an actual event in history or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth.”
The assignment required that students base their argument on “multiple credible sources,” and included an article that stated, “even the Diary of Anne Frank is a hoax.”
“When it comes to the shameful denial of the well documented and systematic murder of millions of innocent Jews, Gypsies, gay men and women and others at the hands of the Nazis, there can be no such thing as ‘credible sources,’” said Blumenfield. “Holocaust denial is a pernicious falsehood that has no place in our schools.”
"I was deeply saddened to learn of this assignment – and sincerely hope that the individuals involved suffer from gross ignorance rather than gross insensitivity to one of the most well-documented atrocities of the past century," said Englander. "The most shocking part of this story is that no teachers, parents or students complained about the assignment. The Holocaust itself is an example of what can happen when millions of people look the other way in the face of bigotry, hatred and discrimination."
“The unprecedented horrors of the Holocaust remain the low point of human history, and need to be fully recognized and truthfully taught, not trivialized into a fictive parlor game,” said Koretz. “As the philosopher George Santayana said, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,’ and that’s why it is essential that people, but most of all our young people, look unflinchingly at the terror, brutality, hate and genocide that was Nazism.” Recently, though, Rialto students were given a despicable assignment that mocked the truth and failed to honor the millions of victims of the Nazis, and for that, an apology is desperately needed, as well as some change in how Rialto goes about educating its youth.”
In 2007 the United Nations passed a resolution rejecting efforts to deny the Holocaust, efforts “which by ignoring the historical fact of those terrible events, increase the risk they will be repeated.”
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