The Los Angeles City Council today called on Rialto educators to publicly apologize for a homework assignment to research whether the Holocaust occurred.
The council unanimously approved a resolution supporting any action by the Rialto Unified School District that would require those responsible for the school assignment to apologize and undergo sensitivity training at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.
Eighth-graders at Rialto Middle School were asked to research whether the Holocaust "was an actual event in history or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth," according to the resolution introduced by council members Mitchell Englander, Paul Koretz and Bob Blumenfield.
"You can't be teaching K-12 kids that the Holocaust didn't happen, or even hinting at the possibility that it was a creation of Jews for their own benefit. That is anti-Semitism at its most extreme," Koretz said.
Blumenfield said Nazi Germany's extermination of 6 million Jews and 5 million "political dissidents, POWs, Slavs and homosexuals" is not up for discussion.
"When you start questioning facts, you breathe life into some of the killers and what they wanted to do," Blumenfield.
Koretz said that while officials of the Rialto school district may not have known about the assignment before it was publicized, it would be "outrageous" to let it slide.
The assignment also asked students to read essays questioning the Holocaust. One of the readings called the "Diary of Anne Frank" a "hoax." and argued that "it is time we stop sacrificing America's welfare for the sake of Israel and spend our hard-earned dollars on American."
The City Council adopted the resolution following a week of apologies from Rialto school district officials. School board members called the assignment "horribly inappropriate" and said it had been an attempt at satisfying "critical thinking" requirements in the recently adopted Common Core standards.
The assignment provoked an outcry from groups such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
--City News Service