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B'nai Brith Canada Demands Correction of School Textbook Suggesting Child Soldiers

July 13th 2017

Blackboard classroom

It would seem that $10.5-million terrorist Omar Khadr and Israeli children have something in common.

Both are not child soldiers, or was not in the case of the 30-year-old confessed murderer Khadr, who has been painted as a child soldier at the age of 15 when he came under the spell of al-Qaida and tossed the grenade that killed U.S. Sgt. Christopher Speer.

You might say the term child soldiers is employed when convenient considering the Grade 6 Social Studies textbook, Canada and the Global Community, published by Nelson Canada, being used in 800 elementary schools across the province.

The book’s first chapter on Human Rights claims that children are still being used in “armed conflicts” in more than 20 countries. One of those countries listed - alongside Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Libya and Yemen - is Israel.

“They (the child soldiers) are used as fighters, messengers and spies,” the Grade 6 textbook claims. “Most child soldiers are kidnapped from their homes and forced to fight ... some children volunteer to fight because they feel pressure from peers.”

B’nai Brith CEO Michael Mostyn says not only is it a “complete falsehood” but it is in fact terrorist organizations like Hamas - which governs in the Gaza Strip - that use children as their soldiers.

“They (Hamas) continue to promote children as terrorists and suicide bombers, while entities like the Palestinian Authority promote jihad and martyrdom in textbooks and other materials,” he said Monday.

The textbook came to Mostyn’s attention by way of a parent of a child using it about a month ago.

In fairness, new Nelson Canada CEO Steve Brown said he got a phone call first reporting this from the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre on March 29 and within a week they had a statement out in collaboration with FSWC, scrapped all their inventory, notified the education ministry and put out a replacement page in sticker format for all schools using the textbook.

“We honestly thought it had been handled very, very swiftly,” Brown said. “I am very concerned with what’s going on.”

Mostyn acknowledged Nelson’s quick action but says during their investigation this past month, they found most schools had continued to use the non-correct version to the end of the school year, even though they’d had the stickers for more than three months.

“What is taking so long?” he asked, adding they “have no clue” which schools are still using the incorrect version.

He said since Ontario schools have been using the book for three years, they also have a “moral obligation” to “correct the record” that Israel is not using child soldiers.

He said every Ontario school should have the correct version in place by the time school starts again on Sept. 5.

“The clock is ticking ... every single textbook must be fixed or else the authorities are being complacent in teaching this falsehood in our schools,” he said.

Education ministry spokesman Heather Irwin gave assurances they take the “accuracy” of information in school textbooks “very seriously.”

She said all affected schools have been notified and replacement stickers “have started to be sent” to cover the error.

“We’re engaged with this situation as we want to ensure that students have correct and accurate information,” she said Monday.

Toronto District School board spokesman Ryan Bird said they notified all of their schools “about the fix” and reminded them that the stickers must be in place for the new school year.

Given that school’s out for the summer (and most educators have disappeared to their cottages), I’m willing to bet Mostyn is right: That the fix won’t be done in time for the start of school.

B’nai Brith is asking parents to e-mail them at textbook@bnaibrith.ca on whether the correct or incorrect version of Canada and the Global Community is being used in their schools.


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