Current Events & Trends: School assignment underscores growing anti-Semitism

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School assignment underscores growing anti-Semitism

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Southern California's Rialto Unified School District drew attention after eighth-grade students were given a writing assignment asking them to "write an argumentative essay about whether the Holocaust actually occurred or if it was 'merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth'" (Veronica Rocha,"Rialto School Officials Apologize for Holocaust Assignment," Los Angeles Times, May 7, 2014).

The school contends that the assignment was intended to promote students' critical thinking skills in compliance with Common Core standards. In a statement, Matthew Friedman of the Anti-Defamation League, a prominent Jewish lobby, responded by saying that "asking students to question whether the Holocaust happened has no academic value; it only gives legitimacy to the hateful and anti-Semitic promoters of Holocaust Denial."

Even following an official apology from the school's interim superintendent, Mohammad Z. Islam, it's not hard to imagine that the seeds of normalized Holocaust denial have already been planted. This might be seen as shocking in the United States, but it's decidedly normal in some other parts of the world. Iran, for instance, continues its brazen Holocaust denial, institutionalized by its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Europe is also continuing to radicalize in terms of anti-Semitic thought. The Jerusalem Post reports that Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, responded to a rash of anti-Semitic activity by saying that "normative Jewish life in Europe is unsustainable" (Sam Sokol, "European Jewish Congress: Amid Rising Anti-Semitism, Jewish Life in Europe Unsustainable," April 27, 2014).

Underscoring his concerns, four people were killed on May 24, 2014 (including a Jewish couple from Israel) in a shooting attack at a Jewish museum in Brussels, Belgium. And later that evening two young Jewish men were severely beaten as they left a synagogue in Paris.

As world events collide in our global village, the return of violent anti-Semitism is an important trend to watch. Much of end-time prophecy revolves around the area of the modern state of Israel, the Jewish homeland, so increasingly hostile attitudes toward the Jewish people will have an impact on the fulfilling of biblical prophecy. (Sources: Los Angeles Times, The Jerusalem Post.)