Offensive textbook pulled from Australian bookshelves


SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — A high school textbook that Jewish leaders said vilified Jews and contained falsehoods was withdrawn from bookshelves in Australia.

Cambridge University Press (Australia & New Zealand) released a statement Tuesday saying it “recognized the concerns that have been expressed” about "Cambridge Studies of Religion." 

Mark O’Neil, executive director of the Asia-Pacific branch of Cambridge University Press, said he would “seek the advice of an independent expert in Judaism” in response to claims of racial vilification and multiple falsehoods made by the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies.

The textbook has been distributed to about 5,000 students in their final two years of high school in New South Wales.

The chapter on Judaism claimed that “much modern conflict in the world is related to the reactions of other groups to the Jewish people” and that Passover “involves slaughtering lambs, [and] smearing the lintel on the front door with blood.”

The book, by Christopher Hartney of the University of Sydney, also claimed that polygamy is “commonly practiced” in Israel and that “the tendency for Jews to choose sophisticated professions such as law, medicine and scholarship is closely connected to Jewish family togetherness.”

“We applaud the publishers for their responsible approach to this issue and for recognizing that the continued sale of this textbook was untenable, given the extent and severity of the problems within it,” said the board’s chief executive, Vic Alhadeff.

Jewish leaders, who were irate when alerted to the chapter on Judaism last week, believed the book could “fuel anti-Semitism.”


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