Chilliwack School District Must Reassess Genocide Instruction Policies re Palestine

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2024-04-23-Teacher.pngMontreal, Apr 24, 2024— The Anti-Racism Program of the CJPME Foundation (ARPCF) expresses its consternation over the actions taken by the Chilliwack School District (CSD) in Chilliwack, BC following a complaint by B’nai Brith Canada. These actions include an apology by the CSD prior to an investigation into a teacher who discussed the Israel-Palestine conflict in a Grade 12 Genocide Studies class. The ARPCF believes it is fully justified for the oppression of Palestinians to be examined in a CSD high school genocide studies class, especially in light of the many reliable assertions presented to the International Court of Justice suggesting that Palestinians are facing a genocide.

The ARPCF is concerned about a broader trend in Canada where discussions on Palestinian issues in education are being suppressed and smeared with accusations of bias or antisemitism, threatening academic freedom and the right to educate about global human rights issues. Jamila Ewais, a researcher at ARPCF, noted, “The investigation of a teacher for including the Palestine question in a Genocide Studies course is indicative of widespread anti-Palestinian racism.” She further explained that this pattern not only excludes and silences Palestinian narratives but also demonizes these perspectives and pressures educational institutions to exclude them from academic discussions. Ewais pointed out how the incident at the CSD exemplifies what the landmark 2022 report “Anti-Palestinian Racism: Naming, Framing and Manifestations” by the Arab Canadian Lawyer’s Association (ACLA) describes.  The ACLA report makes clear that anti-Palestinian racism (APR) takes various forms, including the demonizing of voices advocating for Palestinian rights. It also makes clear that supporting free speech, except when it pertains to Palestinian narratives is another form of APR.  Finally, the ACLA’s review of APR points out that educational settings which excuse or justify violence against Palestinians is yet another form of APR. 

The ARPCF is deeply concerned that educational content discussing Palestinian rights and history is often unfairly maligned and suppressed, whether in the CSD or elsewhere. From the brief video clip provided by B’nai Brith Canada, it is not clear what material is being used, and whether it is authoritative or not.  Nevertheless, the 1947 UN Partition Plan – mentioned in the video – did refer to the creation of a “Jewish State,” and there is copious documentation describing decades of ongoing Israeli oppression against Palestinians.  In 2022, for example, Amnesty International published a report asserting that Israel has practiced the crime of apartheid against Palestinians for decades.  More recently, many respected international jurists have accused Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians. The ARPCF considers the CSD’s genocide studies class to be fundamentally flawed if it cannot discuss contemporary accusations of genocide. 

The ARPCF urges the CSD to reconsider its current stance with regard to the B’nai Brith Canada accusations, and to champion academic freedom within its curriculum. The ARPCF calls for a commitment from the CSD to support a genocide studies curriculum that allows for the comprehensive exploration of all global issues, including the Palestine question. This incident further underscores the pressing need for Canadian educational institutions to foster an environment where diverse viewpoints can be freely explored without fear of retribution.

About the ARPCF – The mandate of the Anti-Racism Program of the CJPME Foundation (ARPCF) is to create public awareness about racism in Canada.  This mandate falls in line with the Foundation’s broader purpose of monitoring and combating manifestations of racism, xenophobia, and discrimination by increasing public awareness of such biases.

For more information, please contact Jamila Ewais, 514-389-8668
ARPCF, [email protected]

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  • Jamila Ewais
    published this page in Statements 2024-04-24 15:28:31 -0400