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School Admits Holocaust Hoax Assignment Was A Pretty Terrible Idea

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When it comes to bad ideas, asking students to write essays that consider the validity of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories is near the top of the pile. A Rialto School District English/Language Arts assignment asked eighth-grade students to write an argumentative essay on whether the Holocaust was a real event or “merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth.”

One of three sources included for the assignment is a webpage entitled "Is the Holocaust a Hoax?", which can be found here. The source claims that the gas chambers were a hoax, as well as The Diary of Anne Frank. The document claims that part of her diary was written in ballpoint pen, which hadn’t been invented yet.

Syeda Jafri, a spokesperson for the district, said the assignment was meant to be an exercise in critical thinking, but has now declared it a mistake.

"We all know it was real. The Holocaust is not a hoax. … I believe our classroom teachers are teaching it with sensitivity and compassion," Jafri said in an interview with KTLA. The assignment will now be revised.

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Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization, said in a statement on the Center’s blog, "The Nazi Holocaust is the most documented monstrous crime in history. This assignment mistakenly provides moral equivalency between history and bigotry. There are people who claim that slavery was a good thing and the Flat Earth Society has a presence online. Does that mean we would ask our students to prepare argumentative essays to such outrageous and patently falsehoods?"

The statement also invites the students of the Rialto School District to visit the L.A. Museum of Tolerance to learn about the Holocaust.