Britain / 25-05-2012
GCSE question asks "why do some people hate Jews?"
Over 1,000 pupils sitting their religious studies GCSE (The General Certificate of Secondary Education) examinations last week were asked to discuss the reasons behind anti-Semitism, The Jewish Chronicle reports. The exam, set by the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance and sat by students last Thursday asked: "Explain, briefly, why some people are prejudiced against Jews."
A spokesperson for AQA said: "The board is obviously concerned that this question may have caused offence, as this was absolutely not our intention". But, she added, the question "acknowledges that some people hold prejudices; it does not imply in any way that prejudice is justified".
Education Secretary Michael Gove has strongly criticised the exam board for setting the question. "To suggest that antisemitism can ever be explained, rather than condemned," he said, "is insensitive and, frankly, bizarre. AQA needs to explain how and why this question was included in an exam paper."
Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, also took issue with the question. "Clearly this is unacceptable and has nothing whatsoever to do with Jews or Judaism," he told the Jewish Chronicle.
Speaking on Radio 4's Today Programme this morning, Benjamin continued: "This is the wrong question, an ill-conceived question, in the wrong place. It invites students to list as many things as they can think of that are objectionable about Jews, and one wonders what the model answer would be… it's a very unhealthy thing to be asking 16-year-olds in an exam."
Today the AQA posted a response to the criticism on its website. It said: "The question concerned acknowledges that some people are prejudiced, but we did not intend to imply in any way that prejudice is justified.