How Britain’s Jewish Lobby Censors School Examinations



Gilad Atzmon looks at how Britain’s Israel lobby, led by arch-Zionist Education Secretary Michael Gove, has mobilized in condemnation of the country’s largest school examinations body for setting a question that asked students to explain “why some people are prejudiced against Jews”.

According to a report in the Telegraph newspaper, ministers have criticized Britain’s biggest examinations board after pupils were asked to explain “why some people are prejudiced against Jews” as part of a General Certificate of Secondary Education exam.

More than 1,000 teenagers are believed to have sat the religious studies test papers, which challenged pupils to assess the reasons behind anti-Semitism.

The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, which set the exam, said that the question acknowledged that “some people hold prejudices” – they expected the students to examine the reasons that lead to anti Jewish feelings rather than simply justifying them.

Snuffing out critical thinking

Michael Gove, the education secretary who is notorious for his pro-Israeli stand and his intimate relationships with the Jewish lobby, has managed to produce a particularly lame statement that should disqualify him from any holding any position related to education. He told the Jewish Chronicle: “To suggest that anti-Semitism can ever be explained, rather than condemned, is insensitive and, frankly, bizarre.”

Mr Gove should actually accept that every social phenomenon or tendency should be subject to academic scrutiny, scientific research and critical examination. He should encourage critical thinking and freedom of thought but, being a pillar of the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) lobby group, we should not really expect a drop of integrity from him.

Jon Benjamin, the chief executive of the infamous ultra-Zionist Board of Deputies of British Jews (BOD), said that the examination question is “Clearly … unacceptable and has nothing whatsoever to do with Jews or Judaism.”

For years Benjamin and the BOD have been braying about the alleged rise of anti Semitism, which begs the question why they are now tormented by the attempt to question the reasoning behind the phenomenon that concerns them so much and for so long.

The examinations board insisted that the question was part of a paper focusing on Judaism and the “relevant part of the syllabus covers prejudice and discrimination with reference to race, religion and the Jewish experience of persecution”.

But here comes the interesting bit. While the question is fully legitimate and deserves a thorough examination, one wonders how the examinations board would propose to mark some possible academically-valid answers.

The kosher answer

For instance, how would an examiner mark a young truth-telling British student who may suggest that anti Jewish feelings could be generated as a direct reaction to the activities of the Jewish lobby – for instance, Lord Michael Levy who financed the previous Labour government that took Britain into an illegal war in Iraq? The student may argue that some people mistakenly identify Jews (as a collective) with the horrendous non-ethical acts of just a few Jews, and that this is where prejudice plays its role. Bearing in mind that it was also Jewish Chronicle writers such as David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen who supported this criminal act in the mainstream media, such an answer would be plausible and consistent with the facts.

Another honest student might suggest that, with 80 per cent of the Tory MPs (including education minister Michael Gove) being CFI  members, there is reason to believe that the British government is under the control of a foreign power. Following pressure from the CFI, the governing Tory government recently amended British law so that Israeli war criminals can visit the UK without fear of prosecution under Universal Jurisdiction. I guess that some students are clever enough to notice that acts undertaken by British politicians who shamelessly appease their pro-Israel paymasters at the expense of British values and ethical considerations actually expose Jews in this country to potential animosity. How would the examinations board mark such reasonable and critical young and innocent thinking?

Succumbing to presssure

However, it seems that the examinations board is not really prepared to tackle the issue seriously. Its spokesman told the Jewish Chronicle: “We would expect [students to refer] to the holocaust to illustrate prejudice based on irrational fear, ignorance and scapegoating.”

In other words, the British education system admits here openly that it expects students to repeat ready-made textbook answers rather than think critically and thoroughly. Is it really “irrational” to be tormented by the irritating idea that the vast majority of your governing party MPs are friends of a non-ethical, racist and expansionist foreign power? Is it unreasonable to wonder why Jewish Chronicle writers were over-represented in pro-war advocacy?

Is it really unreasonable for a young British student to ask why the leading pro-Israel lobby in the USA, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), is pushing for a war against Iran that can escalate into a nuclear conflict? Shouldn’t British students try to examine the relationships between the Jewish lobby and the Jewish community? Shouldn’t religious studies students try to examine the complex relationship between Jews, Judaism and Jewishness? Shouldn’t they look into the relationship between the Old Testament and the Israeli army’s crimes against humanity?

For sure they need do; this is actually the real meaning of education. To educate is to teach how to learn, said Martin Heidegger, but in Britain in the year 2012 education means to teach student how to give the appropriate kosher answer.

As it happens the examinations board reacted quickly and submissively to Jewish pressure. Its spokesman said: “The board is obviously concerned that this question may have caused offence, as this was absolutely not our intention.”

I guess that the examinations board, which obviously has been subjected to relentless pressure, may now be able to form their own answer to the question. They may grasp by now what is the root cause of “anti-Jewish prejudice” and it has nothing to do with the “holocaust”, “ignorance” or “irrationality”. It is actually the natural reaction to abuse of our most precious intellectual right, the freedom to think.

Lame rabbi and school executive

Another banal mind, Rabbi David Meyer, the executive head of Hasmonean High School, told theTelegraph that the question had “no place” in an examination. “The role of education is to remove prejudices and not to justify them,” he said.

It is pretty amusing – or actually sad – to discover that a rabbi and an executive head of a Jewish school do not know the difference between “question” and “justification”. However, Rabbi Meyer surely knows that Rabbinical and Talmudic education encourages debate and critical thinking. I wonder why Rabbi Meyer does not approve of the idea that goyim – or gentile – teenagers should also learn how to think critically and even learn how to debate?

Seemingly, the Telegraph found only one single voice of reason in the entire kingdom. Clive Lawton, formerly an General Certificate of Education Advanced Level chief examiner for religious studies, said: “I do understand why people might react negatively to the question, but it is a legitimate one.”

If Michael Gove and the BOD want to prevent the rise of anti-Jewish feelings and prejudice in general, then they may want to look briefly in the mirror. It is their attitude that put Jews at a growing risk. As it happens, it is always Jewish power exercised by just a few that introduces danger to the entire Jewish community and beyond.

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