Mideast question removed from Canadian exam

TORONTO (JTA) — A controversial practice-exam question about Middle East politics was removed from the British Columbia education ministry’s Web site.

The multiple-choice question, removed following protests from the Jewish public and Canadian Jewish Congress, was posted as part of a practice test for students studying for province-wide grade 12 history exams.

It asked students to identify the following group: "They have been fighting to regain a homeland since they were driven out in 1948. Some have lived their entire lives in refugee camps. Forty years later, Israel still refuses to recognize their right to exist as a nation."

Choices for the answer were Jews, Iranians, Egyptians or Palestinians.

The Canadian Jewish Congress lodged a complaint after receiving objections from students and the public. Spokeswoman Romy Ritter said the question was problematic and an oversimplification of a complex issue.

"The conflict in the Middle East is a very complex situation steeped in history," she told the Vancouver Province. "There’s a lot of nuance, and we just wanted to raise our concerns about the way the question was framed."

The CJC commended the province’s education minister for quickly removing the question pending further investigation.

In an editorial, the Province backed the decision to remove the question, calling it a "loaded bomb," and adding, "Trust us when we say the alleged correct answer isn’t ‘the Gabor Sisters.’ "

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