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Burnaby elementary students asked to weigh in on Israel's right to exist

The Burnaby school district says it is taking 'immediate action' after finding out about a Grade 6/7 exam question that asked students to make arguments for and against whether Jewish people 'deserve or need a homeland.'
A question about Israel on an exam for Burnaby Grade 6/7 students sparked outrage online this week.

The Burnaby school district says it is taking "immediate action" after learning about an elementary school social studies exam that asked Grade 6/7 students to argue for and against whether Jewish people "deserve or need a homeland."

"Regardless of intention, the question is deeply concerning and could be trauma-inducing for students, and particularly Jewish children," superintendent Karim Hachlaf said in a statement posted on the district's website. "I am grateful to the family of one of the students in the class for raising this. On behalf of the Burnaby school district, I apologize. As a district, we are taking steps to address the harm."

The exam question, which was posted on social media, said "some believe that Jewish people deserve or need a homeland (Israel) while others believe that Israel should not exist."

It then asked students to provide an argument for why Israel should exist and an opposing argument for why it should not.

"This does not necessarily reflect your own views but rather shows that you are aware of arguments made from opposing perspectives," stated the exam.

The district said it was alerted over the weekend after a parent in the classroom sent an email with the exam question.

Local school officials are now "moving swiftly" to address the incident, the district said, launching an investigation, working with the school and reaching out to the class and families to offer support.

The district will also contact Jewish community organizations to determine any additional care and supports that might be of benefit and work with elementary school principals and vice principals to "reinforce use of appropriate learning resources within our schools."

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